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Cornell has one administrator for every two undergrads, analysis finds

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Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, employs one administrator for every two undergraduate students, according to an analysis by The College Fix.

During the 2022-23 school year, the most recent data available, the university had 7,764 full-time administrators and support staff, according to information the school filed with the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

Administrators and support staff include management, student and academic affairs divisions, IT, public relations, administrative support, maintenance, legal, and other non-academic departments.

Full-time student enrollment that year was 15,685, making the ratio of undergrads to administrators and support staff 495 to 1,000, or one to two.

Comparatively, a decade ago, the Ivy League school had 460 administrators and support staff positions per 1,000 undergrads during the 2013 school year, IPEDS data shows.

Cornell created more than 1,100 new positions in a decade, going from 6,619 administrative and support staff in 2013-14 to 7,764 in 2022-23, according to the data.

Full-time undergraduate enrollment also increased by 1,305 and teaching and instructional staff by 352 across that same 10-year period, but the ratio of educators to students remained basically the same: about one to five.

Since 2013, the prestigious New York institution, known for its science and agricultural programs, also has increased tuition by more than $20,000 – almost 50% – from $45,130 to $65,204 for the current year.

Much of the administrative growth has focused on bolstering diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

For example, Cornell hired a dean of inclusion in its College of Veterinary Medicine in October 2020 as part of its “efforts to address the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion,” the college’s Dean Lorin Warnick said at the time.

Contacted this week about the analysis, a Cornell spokesperson declined to comment to The College Fix.

Faculty concerns

Two Cornell professors told The Fix that they have seen a notable rise in DEI administrative hiring since the George Floyd protests in 2020.

“DEI has become a campus administrative obsession, quasi-religious in nature, including not only coursework and programming, but events and a ‘land acknowledgement’ read at campus events and attached to administrative emails,” law Professor William Jacobson told The Fix in an email Monday.

Randy Wayne, a research scientist and professor of biology, told The Fix in a phone interview last week that he believes DEI is taking away from the teaching mission of Cornell. In recent years, Wayne said he has watched the number of classes decrease and the number of DEI efforts increase – including in STEM fields.

“You can’t turn around without seeing something about DEI,” Wayne said, describing it as “an infestation.”

Part of the increase in administrative hiring is due to normal growth, but administrators’ focus on DEI and bureaucracy also is a big factor, Wayne said.

For example, the School of Integrated Plant Science has four associate directors, one for teaching, one for research, one for the extension, and one for DEI; and administrators put the DEI director in charge of hiring, Wayne said.

Additionally, the school website states that it was founded on “settler colonialism, indigenous dispossession, slavery, racism, classism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, antisemitism, and ableism.” The statement has been up since at least 2021.

Both Wayne and Jacobson also expressed concerns about “group-identity ideology” and bureaucracy replacing the focus on the individual.

“When you have a bureaucracy, everybody begins to serve the bureaucracy, and that changes everything. People lose their individuality at every level, whether to do science at the individual level, or be a student at the individual level,” Wayne told The Fix.

Jacobson added that “the senior administration continues to push DEI, so expect the administrative/support staff expansion to continue in this area.”

For more on this story, read it at The College Fix.

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