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Beware of 'streamlining' at Marshall

Feb. 24, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

LBJ famously quipped that when someone came to him with a way to save him a lot of money, he took a firm grip on his wallet. By the same token Marshall University tuition payers had better get firm grips on their wallets (or automatic withdrawals, whichever applies) after reading in this newspaper on Feb. 2 about "reorganizing" and "consolidation" for the purpose of "streamlining" the administration at MU (and, purportedly, reducing costs).

Let's face it, the reduction of administrations is simply not done. What IS done is to obscure designs for expanding administrative growth and salary increases with multiple layers of colorful mind candy distractions masquerading as "streamlining." It looks so delicious. Ah ... if only it were true.

Consolidating "this dean" with "that VP" into a super "this/that" administrator is simply a mechanism for increasing the salary of the super administrator. And the "new super" is, of course, someone who has been with the administration for some time, but who is now armed with an impressive new title.

The accompanying argument for this nascent "reorganistreamlidation" is, seductively, that the holder of the "super" position now has more responsibility, thus justifying the enlarged salary. Comforting. In short order we'll find that the former positions are quietly ... ever so quietly ... "re-filled" (with the requisite "new" titles, and higher salaries, of course), resulting in both a net increase in numbers of administrative personnel and costs to the administrative side of the ledger.

It's a tactic straight out of the "Educational Administration Playbook" (page 38, I think). And, in the absence of objective oversight, it works every time. Also going unnoticed is that neither students nor faculty involved in the "reorganization" benefit in any meaningful way; indeed, it may be necessary to reduce faculty positions to pay for the increased administrative salaries.

A rising presidential salary tide lifts all administrative boats. And the recent board-generated tsunami of a presidential tide rushing toward our shore is about to lift -- er, excuse me, "streamline" -- all those boats!

James E. Joy is a professor of biological sciences at Marshall University.



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