MIT Grew Staff Size by 1,200 While Enrollment Barely Budged

MIT Campus
by Micaiah Bilger


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology added more than 1,200 new administrative/support staff positions in less than a decade – including six “diversity, equity, and inclusion” assistant deans in one year, a College Fix analysis found.

Meanwhile, between 2013 and 2022, undergraduate student enrollment remained basically flat.

The administrative hiring increase coincides with concerted efforts by the research university to “advanc[e] diversity, equity, and inclusion” throughout its programs.

During the 2022-23 school year, the most recent data available, the university employed 6,693 full-time administrators and support staff, according to information the school filed with the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

In 2013, that number was 5,474, according to the IPEDS data.

Administrators and support staff include management, student and academic affairs divisions, IT, public relations, administrative support, maintenance, legal and other non-academic departments.

Full-time undergraduate student enrollment was 4,499 in 2013 and 4,601 in 2022, according to the IPEDS data.

Based on these numbers, MIT increased its staff by 1,219 while undergraduate enrollment increased by 102 students.

In other words, the university added approximately 12 additional staff for every one additional student, according to The Fix’s analysis.

Overall, the university employs approximately three administrators/support staff for every two undergraduate students.

Its ratio of educators to students is similar, a little less than three to two. Across the past decade, MIT teaching/instructional faculty grew by more than 600, going from 5,775 in 2013 to 6,434 in 2022. The ratio of faculty to students was 1.4 faculty per student in 2022.

University spokesperson Abby Abazorius defended the hiring increase in a recent email to The College Fix.

“At MIT, staff play an essential role and hiring is focused on ensuring the university has a workforce that can successfully support its operations, including specialized scientists and instructors who help teach our students and conduct research in our labs, and graduate students whom we pay to serve as teaching and research assistants,” she said.

Abazorius pointed The Fix to a Feb. 3 letter to the editor of The New York Times in which MIT Vice President for Communications Alfred Ironside “underscored that when you add these individuals to the faculty, ‘the ratio of academic to other staff on our campus is nearly 1 to 1.’”

She said staff “largely” support academic work by keeping “sophisticated research machinery running [and] spaces clean,” as well as “ensuring safety and security, and more.”

Abazorius told The Fix these things are “essentials of running a top-flight research organization where breakthrough discoveries and innovations provide continuous service to the nation.”

But Peter Bonilla, executive director of the MIT Free Speech Alliance, expressed concerns about the numbers in an email to The Fix last week.

A “swollen” administration increases the cost of college and plays a big role in students’ lives and education – “which can have detrimental effects on free expression,” Bonilla said.

“Bias reporting systems, for instance, have inserted the administration’s power to investigate and sanction expression into what used to be personal disagreements students worked out themselves,” he told The Fix.

‘Diversity, equity, and inclusion’ hiring

A number of the university’s new hires are connected to “diversity, equity, and inclusion” initiatives, The Fix found.

In 2021, the university hired six new assistant DEI deans as part of its “ongoing efforts to create a more welcoming and inclusive community,” a news release states.

Their job is to oversee DEI efforts for each of its schools, including computing, engineering, science, and architecture, according to the release.

At the time, Institute Community and Equity Officer John Dozier said in the release the MIT community should expect more DEI hiring in the future, including “diversity officers” for academic departments and a senior-level position in the Office of the Vice President for Research.

All of MIT’s schools also have additional DEI staff.

Along with the assistant dean, the business school MIT Sloan website lists four more DEI staff and two DEI affiliate staff.

Other staffing increases connected to DEI include the Institute Community and Equity Office, which MIT opened in 2013, according to a report on its website. Currently, the office website lists 37 staff.

Its work “support[s] local and Institute-wide efforts to promote belonging, achievement, and composition in service to the Institute’s mission.”

In 2022, MIT leaders created a new DEI strategic action plan that called for expanding programs and staff.

Its three main goals are “to enhance a sense of belonging at MIT, in the form of a connected community; to support achievement, by providing equitable opportunities; and to support a diverse campus population to help ensure MIT continues to be a magnet for the very best students, staff, faculty, and postdocs from across the world.”

One result was the Wellbeing Lab – “a go-to spot for students to unwind and be themselves,” according to its website.

The center provides therapy dogs, workshops on sleeping and self-care, nutrition demonstrations, and “comfortable, fun, and functional furniture” for students to “pause, rest, and recharge.”

The lab is run by the Office of Wellbeing, created in 2022, which employs eight staff, according to its website. Its purpose is to “coordinate programs and resources to help students prioritize their wellbeing by practicing healthy habits and getting support when they need it.”

Legal complaints against MIT

However, some of MIT’s DEI efforts have been met with legal complaints.

A recent federal civil rights complaint filed by the Equal Protection Project of the Legal Insurrection Foundation accused MIT of excluding white students in its Creative Regal Women of Knowledge program.

However, MIT later appeared to edit the program webpage to state that “participation is open to all students regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, and national origin,” The Fix reported in May.

A group of MIT alumni also are planning to file a lawsuit challenging the school’s undergraduate admissions policies, alleging its leaders unlawfully discriminate against highly qualified male applicants in favor of less-qualified female ones, according to a Fixreport.

Despite its problems, Bonilla with the MIT Free Speech Alliance said the university has taken some “positive steps” forward this past year, including President Sally Kornbluth’s decisionto end DEI statements in faculty hiring.

He told The Fix the alliance does not “oppose DEI in all its forms”; the problem is when it “conflicts with the values of free expression” or functions as a “political litmus test.”

One of the reforms the alliance would like MIT to adopt is training on free expression and viewpoint diversity for all administrative staff, he said.

“If they’re going to have such a large role in the lives of their students, it’s important that they appreciate the fundamental values of free speech and academic freedom, which too few of them do, and many have effectively been taught not to do,” Bonilla said.

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Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.
Photo “Massachusetts Institute of Technology” by MIT / Jake Belcher



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