In 3 States, Criticism of Presidential Pay

July 28, 2011

Amid signs that some public universities are ending a period of restraint on presidential pay, political leaders and higher education employees are criticizing salary levels in three states this week:

  • In California, Governor Jerry Brown told The Los Angeles Times that public university systems were selecting "hired guns" from across the country to lead campuses, instead of nurturing local talent that would take on the jobs for lower salaries. Brown's comments come amid continued criticism of the $400,000 salary for the new president of San Diego State University, $100,000 more than his predecessor earned. "I believe on the campuses now there are many people who don't make near that salary that should have been groomed for leadership," Brown said.
  • In Indiana, an editorial in The Journal Gazette questioned a 12 percent raise for Indiana University President Michael McRobbie (bringing pay to $533,000), and a campus union called for his raise not to exceed the 1.5 percent raises that its members are receiving. University board members say that they want McRobbie's pay level to be at least in the middle of those offered by Big 10 institutions. The Journal Gazette's reply: "[B]onuses and six-figure salaries are disheartening to taxpayers facing smaller paychecks or, worse yet, no paycheck at all. The argument that a public official has cut costs, raised capital or could be lured by higher pay elsewhere is a tough one to make when so many workers are grateful to have even a low-paying job."
  • In Vermont, faculty leaders at the University of Vermont are criticizing the salary ($27,000 a month) that Daniel Fogel will receive on the 17 month leave he is taking as he departs the presidency, Vermont Public Radio reported. Board leaders have said that the pay is justified, given Fogel's successes as president. Faculty leaders said that the compensation level is inappropriate in a time of tight budgets.
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