UNB’s perpetually expanding bureaucracy, and its effect on the academy

Written by Julian Renaud on June 8, 2016


The University of New Brunswick in Fredericton.

“Bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of an expanding bureaucracy.”1 These words are seldom more fitting than when used to describe the administration of the University of New Brunswick. Over the past seven years, the size and cost of UNB’s administration have increased dramatically; meanwhile, the size and cost of faculty have diminished through attrition. Many retired professors have not been replaced, and the courses that they taught have often been dropped from course offerings entirely.

We may well ask: Why is this happening? Why has UNB become so top-heavy? As I said to Terry Seguin from the CBC2, the primary reason is that there is a great discrepancy between how requests from administration and requests from faculty are handled by the Board of Governors. When the administration asks for something, the Board invariably grants the request—even if it asks for something extremely expensive and of dubious value to the University. When faculty ask for something, the Board generally refuses—even if it is something as simple and routine as the replacement of retiring professors. If this pattern continues for long enough, the result will naturally be more administrators and more administrative costs, and fewer faculty and academic costs.

Professors from the Faculty of Mathematics have assembled financial numbers to illustrate just how much the UNB administration has grown in the past seven years. UNB spends nearly $8 million more on its administration than it did seven years ago, an increase of 34%.3

Those numbers were assembled without including the funding for theWhy UNB? marketing campaign, which added, in the 2015-2016 academic year, expenditures of another $5 million for additional staff and ad purchases. The total increase in administrative costs is thus closer to $13 million, or 55%.

This is not sustainable. UNB cannot continue to lavish millions on its administration while neglecting its academic mission to provide high-quality teaching and research. Not only is our current path financially unsustainable, it sends entirely the wrong message about what the University is about. The administration is essentially saying this to the community:

We have plenty of money to hire more bureaucrats, more than double the President’s compensation, fund a multi-million-dollar marketing campaign that does not even begin to meet its own performance metrics, and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees trying to abolish a women’s varsity hockey team that only cost $77,000 per year to run. However, we don’t have any money to hire new professors, replace existing professors, keep tuition costs down, maintain our facilities to an acceptable standard, pay our workers fairly, build the new kinesiology building that we need, or even adopt the recommendations of our own Academic Planning Report that faculty put so much time and effort into preparing, and which is supposed to be a roadmap for the future of our University.

President Eddy Campbell will attempt to justify these skewed priorities in a Town Hall meeting regarding UNB’s budget at 2:30 p.m. today. The meeting will take place at the Wu Centre in Fredericton, and will be broadcast in Room 104 of Oland Hall on the UNB Saint John campus. More information about it is here. I will be there to represent my constituents as an elected Senator and member of the Board of Governors, and I strongly urge everyone with an interest in the future of UNB to come out and join the discussion.

  1. ^ The author of this quotation appears to be Ian Parberry. It is sometimes attributed to Oscar Wilde, but I cannot find it anywhere in his writings.
  2. ^ I address this issue around the 9-minute mark in the CBC interview posted here: http://julianrenaud.ca/2016/05/invest-in-the-academy/
  3. ^ The spreadsheet compiled by the Faculty of Mathematics regarding administrative costs can be found here:http://julianrenaud.ca/wp-content/uploads/UNB-Administrative-Expenses.xlsx

This blog was originally posted on Julian Renaud’s blog.

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