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Northwestern employs 1 administrator for every 2 undergrads: analysis

Added nearly 400 new admin roles since 2013 while enrollment remained stagnant

Northwestern University employs more than one administrator for every two undergraduates, including several new DEI staff in its sports program, a College Fix analysis found.

In the past decade, the private Illinois school has created nearly 400 new administrative and support staff positions while also adopting a policy to hire more “diverse” staff.

Meanwhile, its student enrollment numbers remained relatively stagnant.

During the 2021-22 school year, the most recent data available, the university employed 4,258 full-time administrators and support staff, according to information the university filed with the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

Administrators and support staff include management, student and academic affairs divisions, IT, public relations, administrative support, maintenance, legal and other non-academic departments.

That year, its reported full-time undergraduate student enrollment was 8,438. That amounts to 505 full-time administrators and support staff per 1,000 undergrads, or more than one for every two students.

In 2013, the university employed 3,867 administrative and support staff, meaning the university added 391 new positions by 2021, the data shows.

Northwestern added new faculty positions as well, but the increase was not as large. From 2013 to 2021, the school added 141 new positions, according to the data.

The university media relations office did not respond to several requests for comment this month from The College Fix asking for its reaction to the findings and its plans for instructional staff hiring.

In 2021, the university instituted a policy to hire more “diverse candidates” as part of its “inclusivity and equity” mission.

“We look forward to an ever more diverse and equitable staff workforce as a result of this policy and other efforts throughout the University,” it stated in the May 2021 announcement.

Among other things, the university policy directs human resources to work with hiring managers to create a “diverse slate of candidates” to interview for new positions, and search committees to include “diverse membership to mitigate unconscious bias in the recruitment and selection process.”

However Northwestern’s commitment to “a diverse slate candidates” for the recruitment and hiring of staff is limited exclusively to considering a candidate’s sex, race, color, sexual orientation, or gender identity, and does not include any consideration of an individual candidate’s “viewpoint diversity.”

Northwestern’s Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance goes even further, directing hiring managers and committees to “energetically seek out promising prospects,” because “no one should assume that every strong candidate automatically applies to Northwestern.”

“Areas seeing a lower number of women and racial/ethnic minority applicants than would be expected should actively engage in outreach efforts that will attract and increase representation of competitive applicants from these groups,” the office states on its website.

Currently, Northwestern runs two offices with dozens of staff dedicated solely to DEI: the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, which employs nine staff, and the Office of Campus Inclusion & Community, which employs 17, four of whom work specifically on “social justice education.”

The Office of Institutional Diversity also advertises two student internship positions. One, a project manager aide, is tasked with supporting the university’s Native American and Indigenous Initiatives.

The university’s DEI mission is incorporated throughout its programs, including its sports department.

In May, the department announced the creation of a justice, equity and inclusion fellow and a director of the King NU P.R.I.D.E. Program, who will help make “DEI a foundation of student athlete development.”

The athletics department also employs an associate athletics director for academic services, student development and diversity and inclusion – a position created about 10 years ago.

The College Fix contacted the athletics department media relations staff several times this month, asking if they have received any pushback from student athletes or coaches regarding its DEI mission and how they would respond to conservative students and others who disagree. None responded.

Northwestern’s DEI mission has not been without conflict. This fall, the university is moving forward with plans to rebuild its athletic stadium despite opposition from local Native American groups, The College Fix reported.

The university’s treatment of conservative students also has conflicted with its diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Earlier this year, the student government voted to freeze funding for the Northwestern University College Republicans chapter after hosting a speech by James Lindsay, a prominent author and critic of critical race theory.

The student government later backtracked on the decision after the Republican students sought legal help from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, The Fix reported.

The College Fix contacted the Northwestern Republicans club several times, asking about the ratio of administrators to students, the university’s DEI efforts, and the atmosphere on campus toward conservatives, but did not receive a response.

MORE: At Harvard, there are 2,600 more administrators than undergrads

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.