In recent years, the UC system has faced growing criticism regarding the administration-faculty ratios at UC schools. With 10 campuses scattered around the state and a $27 billion operating budget, which exceeds that of 25 other U.S. states. In response, major concern has been raised on whether this money is being well spent.
Student enrollment in the statewide school system has increased by 38 percent since the year 2000, with the number of managers and administrators doubling and the amount of tenured and tenure-track faculty members remaining more static.
Hiring an increasing number of administrators has been deemed necessary by UC officials in order to keep up with rising technology and information demands. UC data signifies that from 2004 to 2014, the amount of managers and senior professionals has risen by 60 percent, while tenure-track faculty members have only experienced an 8 percent growth in the same decade.
Last year, a debate sparked between Governor Jerry Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano on how to make up for lack of funds to pay for payroll and retirement costs, hiring more faculty members and growing the number of students at UC schools. Brown suggested that cost-cutting efforts be made, such as greater reliance on online courses.
Pension plan debt was created in the 1990s when employees no longer were required to pay into their pension plan due to overfunding at the time. The opposite now exists, necessitating the use of $1.3 billion each year toward paying the existing $12 billion unfunded liability, one of the leading and commonly unrecognized UC expenses that takes away from spendable funds.
A consensus was reached in May that increased state funding and froze tuition rates for two years, and reestablished the way pension plans were set up in the UC system. Weeks following this agreement, a number of already well-paid administrators were granted a 3 percent pay raise.
“While it is natural for the universities to expand over time … it is unacceptable that the core purpose, education, has not seen an increase in educators,” voiced Ani Dhruva, a third-year public policy student. “I believe that while administrators are arguably getting paid too much, the real problem is the stagnation of the rate of tenured professors here in the UC system. If both were evened out and adjusted accordingly with the increase in enrollment over the last few years, this would be no problem.”
UC officials have also expressed that they feel the need to be able to compete against the faculty of private schools. Faculty compensation is established on the basis of how other schools compare, both in the private and public sectors. Debate has occurred as to whether or not this method of compensation should be used for a university system whose missions include teaching, research and public service.