Faculty and staff

The proximate cause of Danielle’s inviting me to guest-blog at Concurring Opinions was a celebration we had at Fordham of my colleague Robert Kaczorowski‘s publication of “Fordham University School of Law: A History,” the publication of which she had blogged here. The  first half the book analyzes decanal administrations prior to those of Dean John Feerick, who remains an illustrious and beloved member of the Fordham faculty. This section of the book is remarkable for being the very opposite of “law porn“: it tells the story of several decades of a law school’s decline. This decline, Kaczorowski convincingly argues, was driven largely by the insatiable voraciousness with which the central university plundered the law school’s revenues (read student tuition) for its own, non-law purposes. Today, we call that plundering the “central services charge.” At many universities, not just my own, central charges are a major driver of law school costs.

The central services charge is related to the explosive growth of the administrative sector within universities.Concern over administrative salaries was a major element in recent challenges to NYU president John Sexton. Even more remarkable is the swelling size of the administrative ranks. Bloomberg Businessweek quotes the US Department of Education to the effect that “[a]t universities nationwide, employment of administrators jumped 60 percent from 1993 to 2009, 10 times the growth rate for tenured faculty.” And it cites a 2010 study by Jay Greene, at the University of Arkansas, reporting that “spending on administration rose almost twice as fast as funding for research and teaching at 198 leading U.S. universities.” An excellent analysis of these phenomena, which combines data with some hair-raising anecdotes, is Benjamin Ginsberg’s The Fall of the Faculty.

Internally, many law schools mimic this trend. The number of noninstructional personnel involved in running a law school has grown by leaps and bounds. This is due in part to law schools’ need to interact with the metastasizing university bureaucracy. Some of it is due to proliferating regulatory and compliance regimes. It can also in part be fairly attributed to faculty distaste for administering law school business itself, and to students’ demand for nonacademic services. But some of it – a substantial amount? – is due to the tendencies of bureaucracies to grow as fast and and as big as their resources allow. Given that administration has grown so much faster than teaching and research, I would think more interest would attach to these categories of expenditure – both central services fees and internal administration – as law schools retrench in response to slowing demand.

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