Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Universities Gone Mad!

Psychologists need to treat the madness of universities

I am going to give you a number and I want you to guess what it represents:


What do you think this number represents? I will give you a hint, think of universities.

You might ask: Is this how much it would cost to hire 100 new tenure-track assistant professors at a major university? This would be an excellent guess. Tenure-track assistant professors at major universities, who typically have a PhD, multiple publications, and many years of post-doctoral experience, if they are very fortunate, receive around $70,000 per annum. It would be wonderful to open up more tenure-track positions at universities, because well over 50% of classes at American universities are now taught by adjuncts. Universities are hiring more and more administrators, and more and more adjuncts, but relatively few tenure-track professors. With $7,143,312 a university could hire at least 100 new tenure-track assistant professors.

But no, you are wrong. This is not what the $7,143, 312 represents.

In fact, it represents the total compensation given to the highest paid president at an American university this year.

Of course, if present trends continue, the sum will be even higher – much higher - next year.

We psychologists have a history of researching and treating ‘madness’ at the individual level, but we have neglected institutional madness. The ratio of faculty-to-administrator pay at major universities has become so imbalanced that the only appropriate description of the situation is ‘madness!’. Many psychologists work at universities with bloated administrations and enormous salaries at the top. When faculty asks for more tenure-track positions, they are told, “We have no money for new faulty positions.” Somehow, the same university administrators find money to hire new vice-presidents and vice-provosts and…… the list is endless. Numerous bloated university administrations testify to this.

The ratio of president to faculty compensations is reaching levels that would have been utterly unbelievable just a few years ago. The only thing going up as fast as the size of university administration is the size of student loans.

Psychologists need to pay closer attention to universities gone mad!