BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Published March 28, 2011
It’s no secret that Michigan has been facing serious economic hardships lately and the University is no exception. With all the changes that have been implemented to stabilize a struggling state economy, Michigan has made many budget cuts, and higher education is unfortunately one of them. But spending on administrator positions at universities throughout the state has somehow escaped the budget cuts. And with more and more students being priced out of education because of less state funding and rising tuition rates, it doesn’t seem appropriate that the salaries of professors and administrative employees continue to climb so drastically. While it’s important to attract the best people with competitive salaries and account for increased enrollment, it’s also a priority to keep spending realistic. Public universities need to cut back on their employee compensation increases to help alleviate tuition costs for students.
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According to a March 27 Detroit Free Press article, in the last five years spending on university administrators has gone up almost 30 percent, and faculty compensation has risen 22 percent among the state's 15 public universities. The University has had a 27 percent increase in spending, which includes new hires as well as salary increases. Grand Valley State University has increased spending on administrators by 48 percent and Michigan State University has increased its administrative spending 41 percent. Amid claims of cutting expenses and more frugal measures from Michigan’s public universities, this is a glaring incongruity. Tuition continues to rise every year, and when families are facing salary cutbacks and losing jobs, it’s going to be very difficult for them to digest the salary increases of university employees.
University President Mary Sue Coleman states in the Free Press article that the University needs the best employees to stay competitive, yet administrative salaries are increasing much more than faculty salaries throughout the state. The backbone of any university is the faculty. They’re the people who are directly responsible for a student’s education, and yet they’re receiving less compensation increases than administrators. There is a clear lack of balance between what it takes to recruit talented administrators versus talented faculty.
With more budget cuts to come, the University has to be prepared for decreased funding from the state. Even small cuts in financial aid would be devastating to many students. Compensation and tuition increases cannot continue at the same pace without students facing serious roadblocks to their education. Reduced funding is the reality the University is facing, and the compensation spending must be reined in before the costs outmatch student capacities to pay.
Obviously higher enrollments at universities require more administrators and faculty members, but to keep education affordable and accessible, the administration and teachers at Michigan universities must share the current economic burden with their students. The future is going to be tough for Michigan and the nation as a whole, and there needs to be more awareness of this on the University’s part to avoid pricing Michigan’s students out of education.