The media have been reporting recently about administrative growth at all the campuses in the UNC system, and I want to take this opportunity to present ECU's information in some detail because we have a good story to tell on this subject.
No matter how you cut it, over the five-year period from 2004 through 2008, ECU's administrative costs have been well controlled if not reduced. Based on our audited financial statements, here are key points about this time period:
- Executive and administrative jobs have decreased by 35.6% over this time period (my tenure at ECU).
- Total employment (up 18%) has increased slightly less than student headcount (up 21.6%).
- Tenured (up 24%) and tenure-track (up 22%) faculty members have increased slightly faster than student growth (21.6%).
- Expenditures directly contributing to the academic core (e.g.: instruction, research, academic support, financial aid) have increased at twice the rate (41.5%) as student growth (21.6%).
The ratios of employees to students and faculty to students have stayed constant for 20 years. ECU has no history (in recent times) of growing other aspects of the university faster than student growth or faster than those services that directly help student success (that is, expenditures on the academic core).
In fact, the 20-year picture is just the opposite of some media coverage. The student population has increased 78% over the last 20 years. In direct contrast, executive and administrative personnel have increased 10.3% over this time period.
PACE and the Budget Crisis
ECU has emphasized administrative efficiencies since Erskine Bowles became president of the UNC system in 2005. An early initiative of President Bowles' administration was known as PACE (President's Advisory Committee on Efficiency and Effectiveness), and while the System has not ranked each university, I have been told that ECU was the leader in PACE savings. We are proud of our work on this initiative.
Also, in responding to the current statewide budget crisis, 73 percent of our budget reductions came from the top three priorities established by our Board of Trustees: administrative costs, non-academic services, and cost savings.
ECU has never had the luxury of administrative excess. We have taken President Bowles very seriously and were very successful in the PACE project. In my time at ECU, not even counting the significant administrative reductions in the last fiscal year, we reduced administrative expenditures by over one third. Over the last year, we cut administrative positions first, with the result that only 2 percent of our total budget cut came from the academic core.