Study: Liberal Bias Among Campus Administrators 'Astonishing,' Worse Than Professors

Student activists rally against gun violence at Washington Square Park, near the campus of New York University, April 20, 2018 in New York City.
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A new study of the issue of political bias on college campuses found that while the much-reported left-wing bias among professors is certainly egregious, it pales in comparison to the overwhelming political bias among those who most directly impact student life: school administrators.

In a report published by The New York Times, American Enterprise Institute scholar Samuel Abrams, a self-described "conservative-leaning" professor, presents the findings of his study of the political leanings of around 900 "student-facing" administrators, or "those whose work concerns the quality and character of a student’s experience on campus." The results were truly "astonishing":

I found that liberal staff members outnumber their conservative counterparts by the astonishing ratio of 12-to-one. Only 6 percent of campus administrators identified as conservative to some degree, while 71 percent classified themselves as liberal or very liberal. It’s no wonder so much of the nonacademic programming on college campuses is politically one-sided.

The 12-to-one ratio of liberal to conservative college administrators makes them the most left-leaning group on campus. In previous research, I found that academic faculty report a six-to-one ratio of liberal to conservative professors. Incoming first-year students, by contrast, reported less than a two-to-one ratio of liberals to conservatives, according to a 2016 finding by the Higher Education Research Institute. It appears that a fairly liberal student body is being taught by a very liberal professoriate — and socialized by an incredibly liberal group of administrators.

Abrams found the most severe liberal-to-conservative administrator ratio among schools in New England (25-to-one), while the West Coast has a 16-to-one bias and the Great Lakes a ratio of 10-to-one. The closest to "balanced" ratio he identified is in the Southwest, which still has two liberal administrators to every self-described conservative.

Abrams notes that the severity of the bias ranges from two-thirds by average in public and Christian schools to three-fourths in private, secular schools, but the bias is always overwhelmingly left-wing.

"While considerable focus has been placed in recent decades on the impact of the ideological bent of college professors, when it comes to collegiate life — living in dorms, participating in extracurricular organizations — the ever growing ranks of administrators have the biggest influence on students and campus life across the country," Abrams writes.

Read Abrams' report here.

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