Mason Corrects Chronicle Article on Staff-to-Student Ratio

Posted: May 8, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

An article in the April 24 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, an independent weekly newspaper that reports on issues in higher education, reported incorrect figures for Mason on the growth in staff-to-student ratio over a 10-year period.

The article, “Support Staff Jobs Double in 20 Years, Outpacing Enrollment,” discussed a national trend among colleges and universities.

The article was accompanied by several charts showing statistics for universities experiencing the largest growth in ratios of staff to students from 1997 to 2007. The charts were based on data reported to the U.S. Department of Education.

One chart cited Mason as having a 121 percent growth in the ratio of executive/administrative/professional staff (a subset of all support staff) to students.

However, the Chronicle article reflected changes in Mason’s data recording with the shift to the Banner computer system. As a result, some positions were inadvertently reported as executive/administrative/professional when they were not.

The correct percentage of increase in the ratio for Mason was 40 percent, putting the university near the average of 38 percent for all public colleges. The ratio of employees per 100 students in 2007 for Mason was actually 5:100, not 8:100 reported in the article.

In Mason’s case, according to administrators, multiple factors have contributed to the growth in support staff — which includes positions such as librarians and academic, research and IT staff.

Some of the factors are an increase in research activity, expanded student support services, new academic and student housing and recreational facilities, the expansion of information technology and growing state and federal regulations.

For more information, contact Kris M. Smith, associate provost for Institutional Research and Reporting.

Write to at