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‘Bloated’ Harvard administration takes power from faculty

Administrators outnumber faculty by more than three to one

Harvard’s administrative ranks have grown by more than 40 percent over the past two decades, and several faculty say the tradeoff has shifted professors to the margins.

Former Harvard College dean and computer science Professor Harry Lewis told The Harvard Crimson that the administration expansion shifted authority away from the professors.

“The result, according to Lewis, is a systems that hurts both faculty and students,” The Crimson reported:

Professors used to “play a more active role” in helping students with their lives outside of class, Lewis said, but that authority has shifted to administrators:

Lewis said the rise in administrative departments responsible for helping students find their interests, resolve conflicts, and address social issues “puts a wall up between faculty and students.”

“It’s sad when they then become somewhat preachy about how things should be done, and the faculty kind of withdraw,” he said.

Lewis added that the addition of new administrators serves more as a way for Harvard to signal its priorities to the world. ….

Lewis also criticized the expansion of the provost’s office. In particular, he honed in on positions related to coordinating student affairs across the University. …

Lewis said he believes the provost’s office reflects the “vertical fragmentation” within the University’s administration.

“They end up stepping on each other’s feet,” he said. “This is part of an attempt to decentralize and coordinate in ways where it doesn’t actually make sense.”

Some current and former faculty also told The Crimson that “in addition to diminishing faculty authority, the increase in administration decentralizes the University, drives a wedge between students and instructors, and provides surface-level solutions to difficult issues.”

However, some others said the growth is necessary for Harvard’s increasing complexity.

“The modern university is a city, and it’s got all the needs and problems of cities,” Thomas Parker, a senior associate emeritus at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, told The Crimson. “It’s a huge group of people who have very specialized and expensive needs.”

Nonetheless, Harvard classics Professor Richard Thomas said the administration does little to help faculty teach and conduct research well.

The growth also necessitates tradeoffs, Thomas said.

“If the administration is growing at a greater pace than the faculty, then de facto what could have been a faculty allocation has become an administrative allocation,” Thomas told The Crimson.

In other words, more administrators means fewer full-time college teachers.

There are currently more than three administrators for every professor at Harvard, The Crimson reported.

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IMAGE: Harvard Campus Service Center

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