Alison Macbeth – Anchor Contributor
As a diligent student, you regularly check your Rhode Island College email account only to find trivial emails about IT service, an event from a club you never joined or another new member of the RIC administration. While a new Vice President of some department may not seem important, the ramifications are worth considering for the overall function of the college.
While many of the recent hired administrative staff were filling vacant positions, President Sánchez’s approach to his cabinet reveals the tendency to emphasize administration. Meanwhile, contractless faculty worked with a salary 17% lower than peer institutions.
While administrators are vital to the success of a university, their positions should be carefully considered. Currently, according to RI.gov, administrator’s salaries are roughly double that of an associate professor. As RIC’s faculty union continues to fight for an increase in salary, this juxtaposition is startling. It appears as though the President’s office does not hesitate to hire new administrators while professors teach extra classes in order to make ends meet. While the RIC/AFT situation is much larger than the single factor of a growing administration, it is an important piece to consider in the overall success of RIC.
Bureaucracy allows for deliberative processes to occur within a governing organization; however, within a college, bureaucracy must act according to the values of an institution so that the college is run efficiently and affordably. Each piece of RIC’s organization goes hand and hand and must be evaluated in light of the core values of RIC: excellence and innovation, access and opportunity, student-centeredness, diversity and inclusion, state and community leadership, and transparency. The more administrators hired, the less budget there is for professors’ earnings and possibly other student-centered initiatives, which are key parts of RIC’s value system.
However, some might argue that adding more administrators equips the college with strategy and skill to pursue RIC’s values. While each Vice President and administrator plays a vital role in the function of the college, it is important to remain mindful of the ramification these large-salaried positions have on the college as a whole. Large, bureaucratic governing structures tend to be plagued with wastefulness and unable to adapt quickly to new ideas. Perhaps there are more efficient and less expensive ways to run RIC.
Employing the resources on campus of our incredible faculty and involved community members will not only boost the morale of the college, but also mobilize the voice of the college. Currently, a top-down approach to running RIC funnels in hundreds of thousands of dollars to a small group of decision-makers and could be failing to amplify the community’s desires, needs, and dreams. It would be unfair to not mention that the administration has, on occasion, sought to have two-way communication with the RIC community.
The growth of a bureaucratic tone from RIC administration will hinder dialogue and movement from the RIC community. Perhaps it’s worth deliberating whether the college values a large administration over other equally important priorities, such as well-compensated faculty and capable graduates.