To say things are “getting out of hand, especially given the tax-exempt nature of universities” shows an impressive capacity for understatement:
For E. Gordon Gee’s final year as the president of Ohio State University, which he left in 2013, he got a package of more than $6 million, as was widely reported. It was a one-time bonanza, including deferred payments and severance, but he’d earned roughly $2 million annually over the previous years.
The Chronicle of Higher Education analyzed salary information for private colleges from 2012, the most recent year available, and found that Shirley Ann Jackson, the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, received a package worth over $7 million.
John L. Lahey of Quinnipiac University: about $3.75 million. Lee Bollingerof Columbia University: almost $3.4 million.
Fenves’s salary as the president of the University of Texas puts him well behind that of his counterpart at Texas A & M University, who has an annual base of $1 million plus $400,000 in additional compensation, according to The American-Statesman.
Each profligate compensation package breeds more like it, as schools’ trustees convince themselves that they must keep pace in order to recruit, retain and receive the precious fairy dust of the heaviest hitters.
They reason that “this is a winner-take-all society and that people with extremely high levels of talent are richly rewarded,” said Richard Vedder, the director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.
“But I think that things are getting out of hand, especially given the tax-exempt nature of universities,” he told me. “They’re in privileged positions, and they were given these privileged positions not to enrich themselves but to serve society. These presidents are expected to live quite nicely but not exorbitantly and not extravagantly.”
Categories: Higher Education