SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


The High Cost of UAS Administration
By Robert D. Warner


April 23, 2009

Dear SitNews Editor:

Rapidly rising costs for higher education are a major worry to college students and their parents who struggle to find funds to cover these increases.

One solution nationally has been community colleges which focus on teaching and vocational training instead of administration and research. Community colleges also work to keep costs lower than traditional universities by streamlining their administration. From 1954 until 1987 Ketchikan enjoyed the benefits of a community college. Sadly, we lost Ketchikan Community College when it was absorbed into a more bureaucratic, cumbersome, and expensive system called University of Alaska Southeast. UAS is controled by a hierarchy of autocratic administrators in Juneau. As a result, Ketchikan campus has lost important autonomy to make decisions locally.

A survey of the current organizational chart of Ketchikan Campus presents a vivid picture of why college costs are so high. As Ketchikan Community College, students were served by a half-time professional academic counselor who also taught psychology classes every semester. A Campus Director rounded out the community college administration.

Today, in addition to a Campus Director, the UAS Ketchikan administration includes a Student Services Manager, Assistant Director for Workforce Development, Student Services Coordinator, Student Services Specialist, a Instructional Designer, and a Administration and Recruitment Specialist. There are also special coordinators for Fisheries Technology, Maritime, and the Learning Center. WOW, ten administrators are employed under UAS, while one was needed under the community college system.

Has the focus of this campus shifted from teaching to coordinating, whatever that means? What are the differences between a Student Services Manager, a Student Services Coordinator and a Student Services Specialist? What does the Assistant Director for Workforce Development actually do?

If all of these positions serve students, one wonders if students have time to attend classes. Do students today need so many services outside of the classroom? What do all of these people do? How many students do they actually serve? Why does a small campus like Ketchikan need all of this administrative overhead? Would students be more effectively served by more full-time teachers and lower registration costs?

It's no wonder that college is so expensive. Certainly UAS Ketchikan needs to be a prime candidate for administrative downsizing.

Robert D. Warner
Ketchikan, AK

Received April 22, 2009 - Published April 23, 2009


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