Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Administration-student ratios stray from norms

Augustana has touted itself as a reprieve from the often impersonal experience students receive at other universities. National trends across the U.S. show that colleges are increasing the size of administrative faculty while decreasing the size of the teaching faculty. This is not the case at Augustana.
According to studies conducted by Assistant Dean Mark Salisbury, director of assessment and institutional research, the student-facutly ratio has steadily decreased over the past decade.
“For decades there has been a question about what is the optimal balance of number of faculty and number of administrations at a given school,” said Salisbury.
Currently, there is one full-time instructor for every 12.6 students. This represents a 32 percent increase over the last 10 years.
A survey of 223 liberal colleges showed a national average of 11.6 students per instructor. However, this number does not differentiate between full-time and part-time instructors, according to U.S. News. Schools with the lowest student to faculty ratio were primarily located on the east coast.
However, Salisbury said that a lower ratio is not necessarily a measure of quality and that the ideal balance is still unknown. A litany of different factors must be considered when examining the answer. Some factors include cost, enrollment and federal
At Augustana the two most important factors are cost and educational need, according to Pareena Lawrence, provost and chief academic officer. With tuition increasing each year, the school has had to cut costs and did so by decreasing the size of the administrative faculty.
“It is really important that even if we are cutting cost we make sure that the classrooms have faculty,” said Lawrence.
She attributed the staff cuts to technological advancements that have streamlined some operations formerly conducted by faculty.
“If we can figure out ways in which we can downsize we will downsize and we try to do that more on the administrative end where students don’t see the impact,” said Lawrence.
Richard Benson, president of SGA, said that this has been achieved successfully. Benson applauded the amount of work both administrators and instructors do to plan, coordinate and communicate with students around campus.
“We’re lucky to have professors with office hours, along with our advisers,” Benson said.
Even with the compilation of quantitative and qualitative data it is hard to say exactly whether or not Augustana has achieved perfection. Salisbury said that an accurate assessment of this mandates periodic examination.
“The question underlying all of this is what the ideal ratio is, and the truth is we don’t know” said Salisbury.
He boils it down to examining “what do our students need, how are we providing that, and are we providing it adequately.”

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Administration-student ratios stray from norms