MIT Administration

a little study in the cost of bloat, originally a letter to the Tech by Philip Greenspun and now a part of his Career Guide for Engineers and Scientists

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The remarks of MIT's vice president for financial operations, James J. Culliton, in your story Endowment Can't Cover Rising Costs (2/28/92), obscure the principal reason for MIT's tuition increases. According to the Planning Office's MIT Factbook, in 1969, MIT employed 962 faculty and 622 administrators. By 1989, the ranks of administrators had doubled to 1217 despite the fact that faculty headcount was practically unchanged at 988.

Why do we need so many more administrators? Leafing through a few months of The Tech shows MIT administrators selecting a monopoly Chinese restaurant supplier, deciding what movies may be shown on campus, writing pamphlets on various politically correct topics, and engaging in other activities that do little to advance the education of students (except perhaps students of bureaucracy).

Algorithm: 1) hire lots of administrators, 2) pay them so much collectively that MIT runs out of money even after being stingy with faculty and TA salaries, 3) raise tuition, which causes people to complain, 4) recognize a need for additional administrators whose job is to explain to people why MIT needs so much money, why MIT needs to collude with other universities to fix prices, and why MIT needs to fund graduate students with bizarre accounting practices, 5) Go to Step 1. Repeat until students are bankrupt.

If MIT laid off the 600 additional administrators it has hired since 1969 and each one costs $50,000/year (salary, benefits, overhead, etc.), MIT would save $30 million annually, or enough to cut tuition for each undergraduate by $6,000.