Over the past 10 years, as Princeton has expanded its student body, it has also expanded its administration. Since 2012, the number of non-instructional full-time staff has increased by nearly 1200 people, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.
Peer institutions have faced backlash from their students on this issue. For example, in 2021, the Yale Daily News reported on a “proliferation of administrators,” while an opinion writer for The Harvard Crimson argued that Harvard should “fire them all” because “God will know his own.” This debate has taken place beyond the pages of student newspapers, spreading to groups like Fight for Yale and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). These organizations contend that the rising cost of college tuition is driven, in part, by administrative increases.
The ‘Prince’ investigated trends in the makeup of non-instructional full-time staff over the past decade based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics.
Certain occupational categories of non-instructional full-time staff have increased in size more than others. Computer, engineering, and science occupations have always contributed the largest portion of staff and have increased by 44.3 percent since 2012, higher than any other occupational category. This may be accounted for by a significant increase in IT positions as the University has expanded its digital operations. The greatest decrease in staff was in library technician jobs, with a drop from 150 to 125 employees over the past decade.
In 2018, the number of staff in business and financial operations more than doubled from 266 employees in 2017 to 581 employees in 2018. The following year, the size decreased to 323 employees. In 2018, there was also significantly more money allocated towards business and financial operations salaries, consistent with the staff increase. The ‘Prince’ could not confirm the source of this year-over-year change.
Among various categories of non-instructional staff, the employees in management occupations have consistently earned more than other employees. Management occupations is a major group of occupations denoted by National Center for Education Statistics as including jobs such as chief executives, education administrators, and administrative services managers.
In 2021, the University paid 775 employees with management occupations an average annual salary of $165,227. The difference between the mean salary of those in service occupations and management occupations is especially stark, with the mean salary of management occupations in 2021 being around three times the mean salary of service occupations. Adjusted for inflation, mean salary in management occupations has increased by 6.96 percent whereas mean salary for service occupations has increased by 2.72 percent.
With a staff increase of 27.8 percent since 2012, the University has allocated more money towards salaries, now spending $500,846,635 on these employees, a 33.2 percent increase when adjusted for inflation.
Adjusted for inflation, tuition has increased by 20 percent, while the administrative body has increased by 27.8 percent between 2012 and 2021. Beginning in Fall 2023, Princeton University is expanding its financial aid program to fully cover tuition for most families making up to $100,000 annually.
There is also a wide range of demographic makeup depending on the occupation. For example, women make up a mere 11.9 percent of natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations, while office and administrative support occupations are dominated by women. In most occupations, the proportion of female employees has remained stagnant.
The racial makeup of some categories of staff is also noticeably skewed. In 2021, 76.1 percent of management employees, the occupation with the highest mean salary, identified as white. In contrast, among service staff, the occupation with the lowest mean salary, 47.8 percent of staff identify as white.
Alexa Wingate is a contributing Data writer for the ‘Prince.’
Mary Ma is a contributing Data writer for the ‘Prince.’
David Shao is a contributing Data writer for the ‘Prince.’
Please send corrections to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.