From "The Administrators Ate My Tuition," in the September-October issue of the Washington Monthly:
Between 1975 and 2005, total spending by American higher educational institutions, stated in constant dollars, tripled, to more than $325 billion per year. Over the same period, the faculty-to-student ratio has remained fairly constant, at approximately fifteen or sixteen students per instructor. One thing that has changed, dramatically, is the administrator-per-student ratio. In 1975, colleges employed one administrator for every eighty-four students and one professional staffer—admissions officers, information technology specialists, and the like—for every fifty students. By 2005, the administrator-to-student ratio had dropped to one administrator for every sixty-eight students while the ratio of professional staffers had dropped to one for every twenty-one students.
So that's where all the Pell Grant money goes. More:
The stress on fund-raising has enabled more than a few university presidents to acquire luxurious offices, lavish residences, and an assortment of perks in addition to princely salaries. Some enjoy the services of a chauffeur when they commute to work and a household staff when they entertain or even relax at home. These and many other perquisites are usually defended by administrators as needed to carry out their social duties and, particularly, to impress their schools' wealthy benefactors. Yet no study has ever proved that presidents who arrive at fundraising events in chauffeur-driven limousines are more likely to succeed in their capital campaign goals or in any other endeavor than their counterparts who drive their own cars or come by taxi or, for that matter, by subway. I have personally known university presidents who were outstanding fund-raisers but, nevertheless, lived frugally and always traveled as cheaply as possible.
The article, by Benjamin Ginsberg, a professor of political science at Johns Hopkins, is adapted from Mr. Ginsberg's book, The Fall of The Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters.
Link via +Virginia Postrel.