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University Leaders Update Trustees on Diversity, 'Administrative Creep'

by on March 21, 2015 6:00 AM

Penn State President Eric Barron realizes Pennsylvania is changing, and he told the board of trustees the university needs to change with it.

At Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting, Barron said working to make the student body, faculty and staff more racially diverse is “a moral imperative” for the future of Penn State. And to do that, every university staffer needs to think about how they can promote diversity in their individual roles.

"At many universities, diversity is an assigned responsibility, when in fact, we won’t be successful unless it is everybody’s job,” Barron said.

For context, Barron peppered his presentation with statistics pulled from federal census data: by 2020, African-Americans will make up 12 percent of Pennsylvanians, Hispanics will make up 6 percent, and Asians will make up 4 percent. By 2027, only half of all high school graduates in American are expected to be Caucasian.

By comparison, African-American, Hispanic and Asian students each make up only about 6 percent of Penn State’s undergraduate student body.  Only about 6 total percent of Penn State’s professors are African-American or Hispanic, though Asian faculty members make up 10 percent of the entire faculty.

Barron says Penn State’s student body will need to reflect these evolving racial demographics if the university plans to continue its mission of serving students in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Penn State Provost Nick Jones also addressed a growing issue for the university: “administrative creep.” The increasing number of administrators at Penn State is similar to other universities, and can attributed to a 56 percent increase in federal regulations on universities since 1997.

“In 2013 and 2014, the U.S. Department of Education released new rules or directives addressing 10 new sets of issues,” Jones said. “There are approximately 2,000 pages of text describing the mandates, and the Department of Education issues official guidance to amend or clarify its rules at a rate of more than one document per work day.”

Those rules and regulations apply to everything from sexual assault reporting to student financial aid. Jones said the regulations force practically every office at Penn State to hire additional legal staff, which is “exacerbated by [Penn State’s] tremendous size.”

Jones said the offices of information technology services, university police and physical plant have seen the most growth as a result of administrative creep. He said this growth has allowed the university to offer a wider range of services for students, but the addition of so many staffers also brings new challenges.

“We need to place more emphasis on direct faculty needs,” Jones said. “And we must do more to produce cost efficiencies.”

 



Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for StateCollege.com who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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