Op-ed argues that bureaucracy bigger problem in PSE than lack of mandatory retirement

November 14, 2014

In an op-ed for University Affairs, Queen’s University Professor Emeritus Michael Baird argues that blaming a lack of full-time faculty positions on senior professors who will not retire is misguided. Baird notes that even in the absence of mandatory retirement, most faculty continue to retire by age 65; moreover, just 1% of faculty are in their 70s. Instead, he says, “our real problem lies not in aging faculty but in burgeoning university bureaucracies.” Baird says that at Queen’s, the number of faculty has decreased by 5.4% over the last 4 years, a period in which full-time undergraduate levels have climbed by 14.9%, government operating grants by 10.5%, and staff by 10.9%. He adds that, at Queen’s, there is one Dean for every 29 faculty members, and one Director for every 7.5 faculty members. Baird notes that these employees do not contribute to the main function of the university, namely teaching, but that the growth in the number of these employees is rarely noted in mainstream coverage of the perceived decline in the quality of education. “The imbalance in hiring policies in the Canadian university system … is arguably the real problem that Canadian academics of all ages and ranks should be addressing,” he concludes. University Affairs