IPEDS Data Report 2012: Resources

In this, the last entry of the IPEDS feedback report series for this year, I focus on resources. In the context of this discussion, resources are personnel and money- the critical raw materials USAO uses to transform college freshmen into USAO graduates (I may have simplified the process just a bit). We begin by taking a look at staff levels across our comparison groups.


At a glance, it is easy to see that USAO has fewer personnel than out comparison group. I thought this arrangement is expected given our relative size; it takes more people to educate, house and mentor 3000 students compared to our 800. Given my background, I thought that explanation seemed an awful lot like a hypothesis and those love to be tested. Thankfully, this was one hypothesis that was pretty easy to examine and I present the results in the next figure.


Since I wanted to compare our staffing levels against our comparison group while eliminating the influence of our vastly different enrollment size, I calculated a staff to student ratio. This is a bit different than the normal student/faculty ratio we often hear about, but results in a similar number for use in comparisons. Using this ratio I was able to apply the staffing rate of our comparison group to USAO. The results show what USAO staffing levels would look like if we used the same approach as the comparison group- I call this the “fitted” staffing level.

Results of this fitting technique reveal that we have slightly more faculty members than our comparison group might have if they were our size. It also reveals that our comparison group uses more staff in various other positions to accomplish their mission that does USAO. Now, this can be interpreted in several ways and none presents an attractive methodology for further hypothesis testing. So I will leave the “sense-making” to my readers.


Figure 11 displays the comparison of average full-time faculty salaries between USAO and our comparison group. Overall, it is safe to conclude our comparison group spends more on faculty compensation. Across ranks, the difference is about $10,000, but this varies by faculty rank. Indeed, it looks like at the lower ranks (these tend to be newer, less established faculty) the difference is smaller and it increases as faculty gain rank.

The last topic I will present for this series is funding source. It is true that students pay tuition which we use to pay for salaries (thank you), supplies, desks, buildings and a host of other things. However, tuition is not the only source of revenue we depend upon to educate our students. In fact, for most public institutions tuition is a small fraction of our total budget.


Figure 12 summarizes the common sources of revenue as reported to IPEDS. The first thing that jumps out at me is the relatively small fraction of the total budget that comes from tuition and fees. For USAO, that fraction is 12%, though it is a bit higher for our comparison group. By far, the largest source of revenue for both groups on this graph is state appropriations. Given that we are all publicly-controlled universities, this should perhaps not come as a surprise. An interesting difference between USAO and the comparison group in this analysis is the relative difference in dependence in government funding.

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