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Brown v. Dartmouth: Where Does All the Money Go? (Part 2/2)

As we saw yesterday, despite the fact that Brown has 35% more faculty members than Dartmouth (and 36% more students), and that Brown pays its professors approximately 10% more per year than Dartmouth professors are paid, Brown’s total annual spending was still $105,491000 lower than Dartmouth’s in 2013. It’s hard to understand that fact, given that Brown is located in an expensive, urban environment: for example, Brown’s 80-person campus police force is a mix of security guards and armed officers of the law with arrest powers; in contrast, Dartmouth gets away with having 35 low-cost private security guards.

Let’s begin our analysis by noting that, according to their most recent Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) filings, both institutions have almost the same total number of full-time employees (including faculty): Brown: 3,628; Dartmouth: 3,648; though, in addition, Brown has more part-timers: Brown: 1,233; Dartmouth 940:

Brown IPED Employees.jpg

Dartmouth IPEDS Employees.jpg

If Brown pays more money overall to its faculty members (more professors getting higher salaries equals more money), then where does all the extra money go at Dartmouth?

Let’s look at total compensation. In 2012, Brown spent $281,635,000 on salaries and $87,954,000 on benefits; in 2013, Brown spent $294,674,000 on salaries and $94,185,000 on benefits, increases of 4.6% and 7.1% respectively:

Brown Salaries and Benefits 2013 Comp.jpg

In 2012, Dartmouth spent $326,856,000 on salaries and $112,937,000 on benefits; in 2013, Dartmouth spent $350,991,000 on salaries and $124,583,000 on benefits, increases of 7.4% and 10.3% respectively. (Note: Dartmouth’s large increases between 2012 and 2013 certainly give lie to the notion that the Kim administration exercised anything resembling budget discipline.)

Dartmouth Salaries and Benefits 2013 Comp.jpg

Given that Dartmouth spends less money than Brown on faculty compensation, and we have fewer total employees, how could Dartmouth have spent $56,317,000 more on salaries and $30,398,000 more on benefits than Brown in 2013 — for a total difference in compensation between the two schools of $86,715,000? That’s 22.3% more spending on salaries and benefits at Dartmouth.

Answer: The staff, the staff, the staff. Even though Dartmouth has fewer non-faculty staff members than Brown (don’t forget that Brown has more faculty and more employees than Dartmouth), somehow we spent $86,715,000 more on compensation. A truly astounding figure.

What can I say? (that I haven’t said before): we have far too many non-faculty staff members; we pay them too much; and their benefits are too high. Let’s cut the compensation of non-faculty staffers in Hanover to that of their colleagues at Brown (where the Rhode Island sales tax and state income tax are both 7%). Once that is done, let’s reduce our staffing to reflect the fact that we have 36% fewer students than Brown.

Addendum: A refugee from the Dartmouth bureaucracy writes in:

I can attest to the high cost of education being attributed in large part to overpaid staff…

I worked at Dartmouth and Tufts for a combined two years. It was a short and less than enjoyable period of my 20 year career in technology administration. Both schools were over-manned in this area. Both schools were top heavy on management; meetings often had more managers than doers (all making well into six figures, including myself). Simple decisions that could have been handled by one or two people involved conference calls and meetings with a minimum of one director, two or three associate directors, two or three managers, and three or four technology associates (sometimes called “senior” for no reason other than they had been employed for a long time — they get a 20% salary bump for that moniker at both institutions). Micromanagement was rampant, often resulting in daily “checkpoint” meetings with supervisors, sometimes several times a day.

Management meetings often ran out of chairs in a good-sized conference room. Meetings would meander towards one to two hours, often finishing up with no action items assigned or course of action to follow. The technology implementation at both schools is confusing, expensive, far too complex for the business need, and not well understood by the large and very expensive staff.

The above represent some of the reasons I walked away, took a 33% cut in pay, and went back to IT consulting, where I am much happier.

And people wonder why college is so expensive….

BTW, I would like to emphasize that this is not an indictment of the entire technical staffing body; both schools did have hard working, honest staff as well as managers — it was the leadership that often was suspect. I am sorry to have been part of the “machine” at both institutions. I have zero regrets for leaving both Dartmouth and Tufts.

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