Report says AZ colleges imbalanced

By Charles Ratliff
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 11, 1996

The Arizona Board of Regents will respond to claims that Arizona's universities are bloated with administrators during today's meeting at the UA.

The auditor general's report on university administration, released to the public last month, found that 25 percent of employees at all three Arizona universities perform administrative duties, while 37 percent serve in a support capacity.

The report stated that only 38 percent of university employees are directly involved in service to the student.

"I cannot preordain what kind of response the board will take," said regents president Eddie Basha at a presidents' teleconference held Dec. 11 in response to the report.

"There will be discussion and I'm certain the board will respond to the report," Basha said.

Overall, Basha said, the board concurs with the report, although the regents do have specific concerns with the report's findings.

Basha said that together, the three Arizona universities are the single largest employer in the state. Their primary mission, he said, is teaching, research and outreach.

The top level of the universities' administration is lean and becoming leaner, Basha said. He said he felt the universities were moving in the right direction.

On the downside, Basha said the regents take exception to the auditor general's report on support staff not contributing to the mission of Arizona's universities.

UA president Manuel Pacheco said he concurs with many of the findings and recommendations in the report, but said that "it would have been nice" if the report had outlined some of the university's accomplishments.

Pacheco said the state of Arizona only provides about one-third of the UA's budget. The report, however, included the other two-thirds of money brought in through other sources when it considered the UA employees as a whole.

"Most of the research funds come from the federal government with specific guidelines spelled out," Pacheco said. "Those terms would not allow the UA to redirect those funds."

Most of those funds, Pacheco said, pay the salaries of university employees who are considered in the report.

Pacheco said over $200 million are pumped into the local economy, and changing or reducing the flow of those funds would decrease the effectiveness of the UA's mission.

"Funds provide for research tools and salaries that the state cannot afford to replace," Pacheco said.

NAU president Clara Lovett said her major concern with the report centered on how it defined support staff. She emphasized that since she became president, she has cut down on the university's top level of administration.

ASU president Lattie Coor said he was concerned with how the report defined "administrator."

"They call people administrators who are not administrators," Coor said.

Coor said he classifies people like the university president, vice presidents, deans and directors as administrators, or "people who make the enterprise run, but who are not directly involved in academics."

Lovett agreed. She said people who are directly involved in working with students, such as advisors who may or may not hold teaching positions, are not administrators.

Coor said an earlier report on teaching and education conducted by the same office recommended that ASU add 300 academic advisors to the payroll.

Coor said that if he had followed the auditor general's advice in 1993, those same advisors "would have been counted as administrators" by their own definition in their 1995 report.

The report recommends that all three Arizona universities take steps to streamline administration, which could result in a savings of $5 million over the next five years.

In other business, the board will discuss the UA's requests to condemn four properties along East Sixth Street to make room for a parking lot.

Earlier this week, the Tucson city council voted to urge the board to support the homeowners by not using its power of eminent domain to acquire the houses for the UA.

The board of regents will conclude its January meeting, held in the Student Union's Rincon Room, tomorrow.