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Death By a Thousand Hires

Although course cuts, the trimming of faculty resources, the infamous “take out your own trash, Professor” policy, and our second-highest-in-the-Ivies tuition are all still in place, in other areas the bloat gets bloater. All of a sudden we need two live phone operators. (For a contrast, call Harvard at 617-495-1000 to enter their voicemail system. There are no operators in Cambridge, unless you ask nicely during business hours. Two operators serve the entire university — 3.5 times as many students as Dartmouth — during business hours).

Operators.jpg

This is not a move without consequences. Instead of these two operators, the College could easily have hired an outstanding young professor. But IP Folt does have her priorities.

In addition, to prove that the College is serious about sexual assault, more staff are being hired in that area, rather than making true structural changes to the College:

Sexual Assault Staffing.jpg

Not too long ago, on the occasion of former Dean of the College Sylvia Spears elevation to that position, we noted that she had only ever managed the “ten-person OPAL office.” Today OPAL has fifteen staffers.

An operator here, a coordinator there, and pretty soon you are talking real money.

For a little historical perspective, several years ago I published an analysis in The D of staffing growth in the administration between 1999 and 2009. The headcount in virtually all of the College’s administrative departments increased by 30-40% during this period. Also, take a look at the Dartmouth Factbook stats on non-faculty staff:

Thumbnail image for Factbook Staff 1999-2011.jpg

During the 1999-2011 period, the number of students at the College was almost unchanged, and about two years ago the 75-80 employees of the Hanover Inn ceased to be counted as employees of the College. If trends continue, we’ll soon see staffing levels with one non-faculty staffer for each undergraduate.

Now, I am not saying that the College should not have people acquitting some of the above tasks. But when Dartmouth is not fulfilling its responsibilities in an area, the administration’s answer should be to replace the people who are failing in their work, rather than adding ever more personnel to backstop ineffective employees (as the College routinely does, according to a McKinsey report written a few years ago). In the corporate world, businesses seek to achieve greater results with fewer resources; over the past decade, the College has done less with more.

Addendum: The 2012 non-faculty staffing figure will come out in the Dartmouth Fact Book during February 2013.

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