These Students Have a Point About UND Avoiding Cuts to Administration

News this morning is that a group of UND students have hung banners on a school parking garage protesting cuts to sports programs and urging cuts to the university’s administration instead.

It’s depressing to me that cuts to sports programs are the rallying cry they’ve chosen. After all, academics are the mission of these universities. They were not founded to be host bodies for athletics.

But I’ll get off my soapbox.

The reaction is no doubt being driven by the announcement, earlier this week, of an estimated $2.5 million worth of sports programs including the nominally popular (though sparsely attended) women’s hockey program.

A program which, in 2016, generated just $25,000 in ticket sales but cost the university over $2.1 million to operate. I’m not sure that’s a cut anyone should be protesting.

But to the point the students are making, to┬ásuggest that the UND administration hasn’t faced cuts is not entirely accurate. They have, though I think you can certainly argue that those cuts so far haven’t been deep enough. UND’s budget for the 2017-2019 biennium hasn’t been finalized yet, but a lawmaker provided me this document detailing┬áthe personnel cuts made at UND in the 2016 calendar year and how those impact finances in the coming biennium which begins July 1.

To learn what those job band groups represent, click here. It’s worth noting that the “2000 – Academic” category includes coaches for the sports programs.

As you can see, the university is losing 123.8 full time equivalent employees representing over $21.8 million worth of payroll:

Of course, of that total, cuts to administrative positions (the “0000” and “1000” categories) make up just 8.8 FTE or $2.78 worth of saved payroll, numbers which illustrate just how heavily administrators are compensated, by the way, when you do the math.

Contrast that with 46.5 FTE cuts to the academic payroll representing nearly $10.2 million worth of payroll. They’re not as highly paid as the admin folks.

So, yeah, the kids have a point. The administrative/managerial jobs on the campus are always going to be a smaller percentage than the other categories, but given how expansive administrations at institutions like UND have become, can we really argue that a reduction of 8.8 FTE jobs is enough?

I’m not so sure. Of course, lawmakers aren’t done crafting UND’s budget for the coming biennium either, so those cuts may be deeper still before we’re done. Again, the numbers above are what was done in calendar year 2016, and do not include any cuts lawmakers and/or the UND leadership have or may institute in 2017.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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