In case you need any examples of how mission creep in higher education contributes to administrative bloat, check out this story about the University of Central Arkansas. UCA decided to contract with a company, called Snoozester, to provide a wake-up and reminder phone call service for students. Students, at no additional cost to themselves, can arrange to have Snoozester call their cell phone to make sure they wake-up on time in the morning or to remind them of a test or appointment. Never mind that almost all cell phones already have alarm functions. We need the university to pay $11,000 to a company to make phone calls to students.
This doesn’t just contribute to administrative bloat by causing UCA to spend $11,000. There also have to be administrators who write and approve the contract with Snoozester. Administrators have to monitor the performance of the company. Some administrator had to dream up the idea (perhaps his dream was interrupted by a sales call from Snoozester).
Of course, we have highly trained professionals recommonding the addition of this service. From the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
Dr. Lynn Taylor, chief of psychiatry at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, said UCA’s program is “a great idea,” especially for freshmen, if the calls wake students up better than alarm clocks.
“That is a really hard time – the transition to college and being on your own,” she said.
This is a small example of mission creep contributing to bloat, but eventually all of this adds up. And it reflects an attitude that there is no limit to the services students need. And since students only pay for a fraction of the cost of all of these services, given high rates of public subsidy, and only do so indirectly, of course students don’t mind getting these extra services.
When will universities start offering the butt-wiping service?
For more on the administrative bloat report that I wrote with Brian Kisida and Jonathan Mills, see this post.