Martin Center column examines toxic Tulsa University

Jacob Howland writes for the Martin Center about problems plaguing one Oklahoma school.

Suffering from self-inflicted wounds, the University of Tulsa is sick and getting sicker. This is a case study in how “progressive” academic leadership can wreck a once-excellent university.

Last April 11, the university’s administration rolled out “True Commitment,” a radical restructuring that gutted the liberal arts, raised course loads, dissolved academic departments, and effectively turned the university into a technical and vocational school. …

… How did a university with a $1.2 billion endowment end up in such bad shape? For one thing, we are seriously top-heavy. TU employs over a dozen people with the title of VP or higher. A study by TU economics professor Matthew Hendricks found that, in 2015, the last year for which broad comparisons are available, administrative spending per student at TU was in the top 9 percent of 796 comparable institutions, while the percentage of total expenditures allocated to academic instruction was in the bottom 12 percent. (That year, only 27.6 percent of TU’s budget—compared with 59 percent of Washington University’s—went to instruction.)

Hendricks also found that TU has the second-largest non-instructional staff size per student in the nation. But while budget cuts should obviously begin with unnecessary staff, the administration may not be eager to erode its primary base of support.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

Reader Comments