October 17, 2015

Staring at a Budget Hole, State Lawmakers Must Examine Higher Education

State lawmakers are finally taking higher education to task for spending millions of taxpayer dollars on "diversity" programming. (Unfortunately, it's in another state. Now is the time for Oklahoma lawmakers staring at a 2016 budget crunch to perform similar legislative oversight.)

For example, OU's "Assistant Director for LGBTQ and Health Programs" (yes, that's an actual job title) recently announced the opening of the LGBTQ lounge on campus. Is this diversity bureaucracy really a wise use of taxpayer resources? Or is it just another component of an overhead-overload problem in Oklahoma's higher education system? Writing recently in the Tulsa World, economists Scott Moody and Wendy Warcholik used U.S. Census Bureau data "to examine the dramatic size and growth in the number of non-instructional workers (per 100 private-sector workers) in Oklahoma’s university system."
First, Oklahoma’s university system employs 2.72 non-instructional workers—which is a whopping 82 percent higher than the national average and is the 3rd highest level in the country for 2013 (the latest data available). 
Secondly, and even more troubling, the linear growth line shows that the rate of growth in non-instructional workers is higher than the national average. 

Overall, Moody and Warcholik write, "this chart strongly suggests that Oklahoma’s policymakers must demand a thorough accounting from university officials as to why the state diverges not only in the size of its non-instructional workforce, but also why it continues to grow faster than the national average."

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