Commentary

UC Salaries and Administrators Grow Rapidly Despite Huge Budget Shortfalls

Even as California suffers through huge ongoing budget deficits and raises tuition at UC campuses across the state, the Orange County Register finds that salaries in the UC system have climbed by 29 percent in the last six years.

One area that seems to be recession-proof is employment in the UC system. The Register reported, “Spending on University of California salaries has climbed nearly 29 percent over the past six years, even as the public system grapples with ballooning retiree expenses that have created a long-term $24.6 billion shortfall.

“The 10-campus system paid $10.6 billion for 259,043 jobs last year, up from $8.2 billion in 2006, according to an Orange County Register analysis of the latest UC pay data. Staff numbers grew by about 6 percent over the same period, and student enrollment increased by about 10 percent.”

I argue in the Orange County Register story that while large salaries could be a problem, the larger problem is the rapid growth in school administrators in the UC system.

The real problem with UC is not the high salaries of marquee teachers and coaches, Lisa Snell told us, but the “huge evidence that the number of administrators has grown astronomically in recent years.” Snell is the director of education at the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation.

She pointed us to a study by Keep California’s Promise, a project of the Council of UC Faculty Associations. It found that, from 1994-2009, faculty rose about 33 percent, from about 6,500 to 8,669. But the number of senior managers rose 194 percent, from about 3,000 to 8,822 in the same period, a near-tripling of managers.

Indeed, the 8,822 managers in 2009 were more than the 8,669 faculty. Does every professor need his hand held in class by a manager?

Lisa Snell is the director of education and child welfare at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.

Snell has frequently testified before the California State Legislature and numerous other state legislatures and government agencies. She has authored policy studies on school finance and weighted student funding, universal preschool, school violence, charter schools, and child advocacy centers.

Snell is a frequent contributor to Reason magazine, School Reform News and Privatization Watch. Her writing has also appeared in Education Week, Edutopia, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Orange County Register, Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications.

Ms. Snell is also an advisory board member to the National Quality Improvement Center for the Children's Bureau; is on the charter school accreditation team for the American Academy for Liberal Education; and serves as a board member for the California Virtual Academy.

Before joining Reason Foundation, Snell taught public speaking and argumentation courses at California State University, Fullerton. She earned a Master of Arts in communication from California State University, Fullerton.