Professional non-faculty positions up 58 percent

Adriane Hardin

There are more people earning paychecks on the Hill than ever before – but students may not find them in the classroom.

Western has increased the hiring of “professional non-faculty” employees by 58 percent since 1993, according to information from the Council on Post-Secondary Education.

Professional non-faculty make up such positions as admission counselors, health services workers and laboratory assistants.

Faculty hiring increased 12 percent since 1993.

“It is a reflection of our growth in student population,” Human Resources director Tony Glisson said.

While some say the trend is related to changes in higher education and increased enrollment, others say there may be a misuse of state and university money.

The university has more responsibilities than ever before in terms of data gathering, Faculty Regent Robert Dietle said. While this would cause an increase in professional non-faculty hiring, the statistics still indicate a “disturbing trend.”

Sponsored programs director Phillip Myers said Western would never neglect faculty hiring.

“They are our bread and butter,” Myers said.

Provost Barbara Burch said there is a legitimate reason for the difference in faculty and non-faculty hiring.

“Ten years ago we didn’t have many resources committed to fund raising and development,” Burch said. “The creation of that division, which has been a real bonus to the university, has contributed a number of positions.”

Western has added positions in student support areas, such as admissions, and created new positions to meet students’ needs, she said.

The university is providing more tutoring and mentoring by increasing the number of employees in those areas, she said.

Western has also seen a steady increase in the hiring of payroll managers, development officers, financial aid counselors, accountants and academic advisers, Glisson said.

That makes sense, Staff Council Chair Elizabeth Paris said.

Every student who enrolls at Western has to be registered and has to get their financial aid paperwork finished, she said. Enrollment increases mean Western will need more staff to handle the needs of new students.

“I mean the faculty teach the students and they’re number one for sure, but the staff are the core of running the university,” she said.

Burch said the increase works out to an average of 5.8 percent each year, which is reasonable considering the university’s enrollment growth in recent years.

“When you add 25 percent more students you need more staff in virtually every place,” Burch said. “It just makes sense.”

The increase in enrollment isn’t the only reason professional non-faculty hiring is growing, Glisson said.

Universities are doing more in grants, contracts, fund raising and economic development, Burch said.

Many of the positions have been created and funded by grant money and not state money, Myers said.

“They are being hired because our faculty have been good enough to get more grants,” Burch said. “If you’ve tripled your grants, you have more projects and somebody has got to do them.”

Reach Adriane Hardin at [email protected]