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Consultants: UNC spends too much on administrators

Posted July 22, 2009
Updated July 23, 2009

— The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been spending more on administrative costs than academic expenses in recent years, a global consultant group said in a report released Wednesday.

Bain & Company has been helping university officials look for ways to streamline operations and be more effective. The group was paid by an anonymous donor.

The report found the university’s administrative expenses per student have grown faster than academic expenses.

UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp said the increase could have been driven by the university’s increase in research funding, which requires staff, and a boom in construction financed by higher education bonds.

The school’s complex organizational structure was also cited as a potential problem in the 100-plus page report.

The university was found to have 10 layers of management with more than 50 percent of supervisors managing three or fewer people. This situation could result in a substantial bureaucracy and leave leadership too filtered from what is really going on, the report stated.

The university has 11,700 permanent employees spread across 400 departments. The group recommends the university create new policies to prevent adding new administrative layers. Restructuring is also recommended to help reduce the number of layers currently in place.

Changes in the administrative organizational structure could save the university up to $12 million annually, the report said.

“It’s really shown us that we can be a whole lot more effective in the way we do things,” Thorp said. “We have some problems and I think those problems are ones that you would find in any large organization.”

Bain & Company used budget idea emails, data analysis and research and campus interviews to compile the report. Consultants will present the full report to the Board of Trustees this week.

The group also recommends the 100 centers and institutes at the university make changes to streamline their reporting structure and share support services, like human resources and finance.

“This fall we will enter the detailed solution design phase. That phase will involve assigning initiative champions to work with people across the university to build implementation plans,” Thorp said.

Bain & Company will return sometime in 2010 to do a free analysis of the university’s progress, Thorp said.


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  • balog Jul 23, 2009

    itis - is that why glaxo, sas, and others have entire buildings on campus using academic knowledge?
    shut up already.

  • findoutthefacts Jul 23, 2009

    I think one of the major issues here is the UNC always whines and complains they should have about 3x (or more) funding than every other state university. So is this why they need or "deserve" more funding? Beaurocracy?

  • fayofbundy Jul 23, 2009

    "I also think, there is too much construction on campus. "

    Amen. It was a pretty campus when I was there back in the early 80s. Now it just looks like a giant ongoing construction site.

    While there are plenty of reasons to recommend UNC, appearance is no longer one of them (unless you stay on the quad in north campus)

  • fayofbundy Jul 23, 2009

    "FAYOFBUNDY" I am truly sorry that you are HIV positive and that "BALOG" got laid off from IBM. Now can you comment intelligently."

    thanks for confirming my suspicions about your IQ.

    hey! get off the computer! there's a backup at the drive-through window.

    now get back to work!

  • moth Jul 23, 2009

    Now you know why a US degree now costs as much or more than a mortgage.The costs of education in the US have become ridiculous .The rise in tuition costs over the past 10 years have made foreign universities and online degrees much more competitive. This is the next bubble to pop.

  • HanginTough Jul 23, 2009

    Is anyone really surprised. Most administrators I know are REALLY LUCKY to have good people "doing their job" for them. Some administrators could not show up for weeks and the work would still get done and done well!

  • WHEEL Jul 23, 2009

    "FAYOFBUNDY" I am truly sorry that you are HIV positive and that "BALOG" got laid off from IBM. Now can you comment intelligently.

  • kenshi Jul 23, 2009

    itls said " I have a recomendation also. Fire everyone who is not teaching courses, forget about the research. Teaching is the Universities "job one"!"

    Got news for ya buddy, research is grant funded and not funded by the State.

  • kenshi Jul 23, 2009

    itls said ""BALOG" All the important commercial research gets done by the drug firms. "

    Ok, I have worked in Large Pharma ( like GSK), small biotech, as well as academia biological research and MOST of the research ideas come from academia. Pharma just takes those ideas and results and applies a large screening effort to try and make a drug. To say all important research is done by industry just shows your ignorance of the reality o drug discovery.

  • fayofbundy Jul 23, 2009

    "Also, I would be interested in knowing how you know what my job responsibilites are."

    based on your posts, I'm guessing it's something that requires lots of flipping, and salting, and bagging, and super-sizing.