UConn spends more on administration than its peers

The University of Connecticut spends more on administration than the 71 other public research universities nationwide, a review of U.S. Department of Education data by the Wall Street Journal has found.

Of the $49,739 UConn spent on each student during the 2010-11 school year, $8,493 went to pay for non-classroom administrative costs. These costs make up 17 percent of the university’s budget.

Following behind UConn in administrative costs is the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which spends $6,426 in administrative costs per student.

The university has been criticized in recent years for the salaries of its police chief and top communications official.

A comparison of UConn’s top three positions by the Connecticut Mirror last year found that the compensation for the university’s president, provost and chief financial officer all rank in the middle when compared to their peer universities.

However, UConn’s overall administrative staffing levels, drew the attention of Bloomberg News in a recent story on administrative “bloat.” The U.S. Department of Education reports that in the fall of 2011, the university employed 289 full-time executive/administrative/managerial employees. Additionally, there were 830 full-time staff classified as “clerical and secretarial.”

A spokeswoman for UConn said the percentage of overall spending going to cover administrative costs is actually lower that the 17 percent the college reported to the education department because it includes UConn Health Center spending. The health center includes a teaching hospital.

Not including the health center, 13 percent of the university’s budget, or $4,820 per student, is spent on administrative costs, according to UConn. This would place UConn third among the nation’s research universities for spending on administration. Among the flagship’s self-identified “peer universities,” the system still spends more on administration than any of them.

UConn President Susan Herbst has recognized the need to spend more on the classroom and has promised to hire an additional 290 new faculty by 2017. The funding for that initiative is coming from a 24 percent increase in tuition between 2012 and 2016.

The state’s other public colleges also spend a sizable portion of their revenue on administrative costs. Western Connecticut State University spent 22.4 percent of its budget on institutional support, or $4,261 per student. Central Connecticut State University spent 16.1 percent of its budget, or $3,067 per student. Southern Connecticut State University spent 15.4 percent, or $2,850 per student. Eastern Connecticut State University spent 20.4 percent of its budget, or $4,140.

All four of these colleges are in one college system, known as the Board of Regents for Higher Education. The Regents’ central office did not separate out their costs in the college’s reports to the U.S. Department of Education. Among the four state universities, there were 120 managers.