WASHINGTON, October 20, 2014 – Did you hear about the Kentucky University president that gave part of his salary back to the school?
The man at the helm of a Kentucky State university, Raymond Burse, gave over $90,000 of his salary to 24 of the schools lowest paid employees. His act allowed a pay raise from $7.25 to $10.25 per hour for those employees.
“I think it will be impactful. How impactful, I don’t know,” said Raymond Burse, interim president of Kentucky State University in Frankfort. Burse sees the move as an investment into the school.
“It was about the act of doing something that would be impactful to individuals to whom I was going to demand a lot from, and so that’s what it’s all about,” Burse said.
Burse, KSU’s president from 1982 to 1989, was hired for a period of 12 months to replace retiring president Mary Evans Sias, president for the past 10 years. Sias retired June 30.
Needless to say his decision was met with a variety of responses. The voluntary cut in pay had to be approved by the board. “I was having coffee with my board chair and I said to her, ‘I’m thinking about giving you back some of your money,’ and she was a little bit shocked,” he said.
Her response: “It’s your money. Do what you want to do.”
The pay raises will stay in place even after a new president is selected, he said. It will be the rate for all new hires as well, raising the Kentucky State University minimum wage.
Burse’s salary is still a comfortable $259,745. So why did he do this? In part because Burse worked minimum wage as a young person:
“I look at myself as a poor country kid from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, trying to do well in this world by treating people right.”
From Eastern Kentucky University is Michael T. Benson. When he arrived at EKU in 2013, his base salary was $400,000 a year, with an additional $48,000 for housing, $25,000 for discretionary spending (sounds like wooing big donors but it’s not spelled out); a car for which EKU will pay all expenses; free tuition for his children at EKU’s Model Laboratory School; and the possibility of another $120,000 in bonus payments. (Kentucky School News)
Just prior to Benson’s arrival EKU announced a 2.95 percent tuition increase, a 5 percent hike in dorm fees and announced there would be no across-the-board salary increases for faculty and staff.
Burse says he did not do this as an encouragement to other university leaders to follow suit. But they might want to consider learning a lesson from Burse, particularly as student debt reached $1.2 trillion.
And that at the schools with the highest paid executive staff saw that debt increasing at a 13% faster rate because those high salaries executive salaries mean there is less funding available of scholarships.
“For the 2011–12 academic year, annual current dollar prices for undergraduate tuition, room, and board were estimated to be $14,300 at public institutions, $37,800 at private nonprofit institutions, and $23,300 at private for-profit institutions. Between 2001–02 and 2011–12, prices for undergraduate tuition, room, and board at public institutions rose 40 percent, and prices at private nonprofit institutions rose 28 percent, after adjustment for inflation. The inflation-adjusted price for undergraduate tuition, room, and board at private for-profit institutions was 2 percent lower in 2011–12 than in 2001–02.”
A May 2014 report by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) contrasted the pay of university president to the amount of money allocated to student scholarships.
Like much of corporate America, the study noted a trend among universities to hire part-time adjunct-professor nor requiring benefits.
From 2009 to 2012, it is noted, executive compensation at public research universities increased 14% to an average of $544,554, while compensation for presidents at the highest-paying universities increased by a third, to $974,006.
“Administrative spending outstripped scholarship spending by more than 2 to 1 at state schools with the highest-paid presidents,” the report says.
Ohio State University’s E. Gordon Gee made $1.8 million annually making him the top-paid public college president in the country. But that was only the beginning.
Gee retired from Ohio State presidency but retained the title president emeritus and he was named director of the schools Center for Higher Education Enterprise.
All leading to Gee receiving $410,000 a year as a tenured professor at the Mortiz School of lay, an annual $300,000 grant for his research into 21st Century education policy, plus a one-time payments of $1.5 million to release the university from contractual compensation obligations and $800,000 to his retirement plan.
TIME says that from 2009 to 2012 salaries have skyrocketed: “Executive compensation at public research universities increased 14 percent to an average of $544,554, while compensation for presidents at the highest-paying universities increased by a third, to $974,006.”
According to Forbes (May 2014) after Gee, the top public university president salaries are:
1. R. Bowen Loftin President, Texas A&M University at College Station (left January 2014): $1.636 million
3. Hamid A. Shirvani Chancellor, North Dakota University system (left January 2014): $1.311 million
4. Rhenu Khator Chancellor and President, University of Houston main campus: $1.266 million
5. Sally K. Mason President, University of Iowa: $1.140 million
6. Michael A. McRobbie President, Indiana University at Bloomington: $1.112 million
7. Michael F. Adams President, University of George (left July 2013): $1.075 million
8. V. Gordon Mouton President, University of South Alabama: $1.072 million
9. Mary Sue Coleman President, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor: $1.037 million
10. Mark G. Yudof President of the University, University of California system (left September 2013): $857,000