The university must continually look for ways to reduce costs. For example, in the 2017-18 fiscal year, OSU reduced its E&G spending by $20 million to hold tuition increases below 5 percent. OSU’s Board of Trustees has stated that it expects tuition to increase from 2 to 5 percent per year, which means in years with larger cost increases, such as this coming year, the expectation is for the university to make expense reductions.
There several problems with looking at cutting administration as the primary solution. First, “administration” provides core services. For example, the Research Office and the Office of Student Affairs are non-academic (administrative) units, but most faculty and staff would agree they are providing essential services. The Ombuds Office is part of the President’s Office but is probably viewed as a resource for employees. What is valued in non-academic functions depends a lot on one’s perspective.
Second, continuing cuts in administration must eventually result in a reduction of essential services. For example, if inflationary costs are 4 percent annually and OSU cuts that much every year in expenditures, in five years, the cuts made would have totaled 22 percent and many programs and services would have been eliminated.
Third, there is a problem of scale. In 2017-18, OSU’s Corvallis campus reduced projected expenses by about $20 million. In 2019-20, the projection is for about $12 million in expense reductions, depending on the outcome of the legislative session. The budget for all departments under the Office of the President (including the offices of the General Counsel; Institutional Diversity; Audit, Risk and Compliance; Ombuds; Equal Opportunity and Access; and Legislative Affairs, among others) is $8.4 million; for Student Affairs, $7.7 million; and for the Research Office, $7.6 million. The central administration is simply not large enough—even if complete functions were eliminated—to address the predicted revenue shortfall. (back to top)