Service of What Am I Worth To You?
December 23rd, 2014
Categories: Education, Salaries, Uncategorized
It’s hard to place values on earnings these days: Writers are paid a pittance, far less than garbage collectors or sports figures, and college presidents’ compensation averages in the six figures—up to $6 or $7 million in public and private colleges respectively—while students fall into deep-dish debt to pay the freight.
Valerie Strauss shared the list of college presidents’ compensation in her Washington Post article, “The surprising top 10 highest paid private college presidents.” She read the information in The Chronicle of Higher Education which, she noted, just reported on the latest data. It’s from 2012.
The amounts surprise me, not the people—about whom I know nothing, with one exception: The man whom she listed at the $6 million level, according to a May 2014 report by the Chronicle. He was E. Gordon Gee. But she didn’t identify where he earned it so I turned to Google to find out.
That’s where I discovered Jordan Weissman’s article in slate.com: “This State College President Earned $6 Million Last Year. Should You Be Mad?” He confirmed the amount Ohio State University paid Gee, $6,057,615, much of which “came from built-up deferred compensation and severance,” wrote Weissman. He continued: “Gee retired from his post last summer after he was caught on tape disparaging Notre Dame and Catholics. (He’s now running West Virginia University). But his $851,000 base salary was also the highest among state school leaders.” Some model for students and a real fundraising magnet, right?
According to the Chronicle, “on average, a private-college president’s salary accounted for about 0.5 percent of his or her institution’s overall budget in 2012,” wrote Strauss. I have no way to determine the impact of the $6 and $7 million on Ohio State’s and Rensselaer’s budgets.
How do boards of trustees justify such figures? What makes one president worth so much more money than anyone else—their fundraising track record? Do you find that the range of compensation these days is unrelated to what a talented person in certain industries made 10 years ago?