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Salaries of public college chiefs rise, median tops $400,000

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Replies to: Salaries of public college chiefs rise, median tops $400,000

  • poetgrlpoetgrl Posts: 194
    edited May 2013
    Well, I agree on the loss of state support. Also, in our state, almost all the support now goes to paying for pensions. We live in a particularly horrendous state for public university costs, though. It's practically criminal, imho.

    But the concurrent INCREASE in administrative pay and administrative jobs makes no sense in the current environment, and would never occur in the private sector, which is why I can't figure out the comparisons to private CEOs.
  • Roger_DooleyRoger_Dooley Administrator Posts: 329
    edited May 2013
    I'm sure this situation is similar to football coaches, CEOs, and pro athletes - a few true stars justify a huge compensation package based on actual performance - funds raised, ticket revenue, profits generated, etc. Back when Michael Jordan was setting new pay records, few could argue that he wasn't earning his keep in terms of incremental revenue to the club.

    But, once these high levels are established, they inflate the expectation for everyone else in that position. A great example is baseball arbitration, where for years second-tier players could argue, "I may not be as good as the guy making $5 million, but I should still get at least $3 million..." So, you end up with competent players who are largely interchangeable and by themselves attract no incremental ticket sales or TV ratings, making millions.

    A university president who spearheads a fund drive that raises $600 million, and personally closes many of the largest donations, is totally worth a million or two bucks a year.

    But, the president who's mainly an administrator will then point to "average compensation," not to mention the high-paid outliers, when negotiating his/her own package.

    I'd add that a small number of presidents achieve greatness by strategically focusing their university's efforts - choosing which programs to fund, establishing partnerships, creating centers of excellence, etc. These effects of these efforts, though, may be visible only years after the decisions are made.
  • katliamomkatliamom Posts: 24 Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    poet girl, the increase in administrative spending is partly a direct result of the decrease in state funding. Schools need to become more entrepreneurial - so they need more staff to carry out those entrepreneurial endeavors. Those endeavors usually require trained professionals who expect to be paid as such. Also, don't forget, that schools today offer more services (mental health, for example) than they used to. That requires more staff. I know that at one university, an entire team (some of them temp/contract employees, other full-timers) had to be hired to deal with specialized safety issues -- a direct fallout from the Virginia Tech mass shootings. This is also not something schools had to worry about a generation ago.
  • BCEagle91BCEagle91 Posts: 154
    edited May 2013
    At my daughter's Community College, they used to allow students to go online to sign up for courses. They now require an adviser to approve all courses. This means that every student has to meet with an adviser to discuss what they need and what they plan to take and then the student can sign up for courses. This obviously creates a crush on the department around enrollment time but it requires a lot of added employees to deal with the crush.

    I'd guess that the change was to deal with students that were not graduating on time or that were unprepared for the courses that they signed up for.

    I think that schools have had to increase their tutoring staffs to deal with more students with deficiencies from high-school where they may have done well-enough on standardized tests to avoid remedial courses but aren't strong enough to deal with college courses without some additional help.

    I think that you can find examples of college presidents where you strongly feel that they deserve their compensation packages and far more and where you're happy to donate to their school because they are doing great work and serving the public. It seems that there's a lot of animosity and some examples where many feel that college presidents are overpaid but we shouldn't paint all with the same broad brush.
  • GMTplus7GMTplus7 Posts: 63
    edited May 2013
    From the WSJ
    Cost of College: Colleges' Bureaucracy Expands Costs - WSJ.com
    The number of employees hired by colleges and universities to manage or administer people, programs and regulations increased 50% faster than the number of instructors between 2001 and 2011, the U.S. Department of Education says. It's part of the reason that tuition, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has risen even faster than health-care costs.


    2010-11 data
    column 1: Administrative spending per student
    column 2: Administrative spending as percent of total
    column 3: Total education-related spending per student

    $8,493 17% $49,739 University of Connecticut
    $6,426 10% $65,365 University of Alabama at Birmingham
    $5,625 10% $56,921 University of Pittsburgh
    $5,158 11% $44,861 The University of Texas
    $4,961 13% $37,168 Stony Brook University
    $4,948 09% $54,548 Pennsylvania State University
    $4,355 10% $43,610 University of Virginia
    $4,306 10% $44,257 SUNY at Albany
    $4,215 12% $35,233 Ohio State University
    $4,195 09% $48,179 University of Minnesota
    $4,136 05% $75,776 University of California-Los Angeles
    $4,031 08% $49,404 University of California-Berkeley
    $4,026 14% $28,962 University at Buffalo
    $3,826 08% $50,020 University of Utah
    $3,803 12% $32,234 Purdue University
  • barronsbarrons Posts: 48
    edited May 2013
    Please define an admin. Does that include advisers, counselors, placement office? Many of those have been expanded due to student demands for same.
  • katliamomkatliamom Posts: 24 Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    No one is questioning growing administrative spending, but some of us are looking for solid reasons why. And there are many VALID reasons, including the ones listed in earlier posts.
  • BCEagle91BCEagle91 Posts: 154
    edited May 2013
    >> From my vantage point, University of Michigan President Mary
    >> Sue Coleman earns every dime of her $918,783 compensation.
    >> In fact, she's been an incredible bargain, and I regret that she
    >> has elected to give up the reins. She'll be hard to replace. Not
    >> many people are cut out for a job this complex.

    > That's $918,783 yearly mind you... If Michigan's expenses total
    > roughly 5.5 billion a year, that means her take is almost 20% of
    > the school's annual budget! For one person!

    Math fail.
  • poetgrlpoetgrl Posts: 194
    edited May 2013
    I suppose there's nothing that can be done to bring post secondary costs into line with inflation. I suppose that there are VALID reasons for the middle management model that they don't even teach in their OWN BSchools to be utilized in colleges.

    But, we will see what happens.

    If parents smarten up and students, too, prices will go down. But, of course, they will cut professor pay and further eliminate tenure and keep the diversity deans who earn over a quarter million a year. :rolleyes:
  • katliamomkatliamom Posts: 24 Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    Quite a few (erroneous, btw) assumptions in your argument, poetgrl.
  • poetgrlpoetgrl Posts: 194
    edited May 2013
    I'm sure there are.

    Are you saying the administrative costs of the universities are a good thing? Really beneficial? How so?
  • poetgrlpoetgrl Posts: 194
    edited May 2013
    Nothing? Okay.

    Are you saying, maybe, that schools have not been getting rid of tenure and relying on part time teachers even as they ramp up administrative costs?


    Are you saying that the diversity deans are not being paid a quarter of a million dollars even though there have been links provided to these salaries in this very thread?

    Or, are you saying that the cost will never go down and that kids will continue to borrow away their futures?

    I think that one of the missions of the president of a tax exempt or state university ought to be to keep the costs down for the students. You may disagree, which is also fine.
  • bclintonkbclintonk Posts: 48
    edited May 2013
    Some of the increase in administrative costs is consumer driven. Back in my day there were no writing centers, tutoring services, IT departments and technology help desks, or psychological counseling services. Career counseling and academic counseling were minimal. There were no high-tech classrooms, no campus-wide wireless internet. Athletic facilities consisted of a musty old gym and some fields, not a state-of-the-art fitness center. You ate in a cafeteria with a bland and unimaginative menu put together by a nutritionist whose highest ambitious was to get you three square meals a day—not catered dining halls and a suite of snazzy eateries to appeal to every taste. Colleges now provide these extra bells and whistles because students (and their families) demand them, and in many cases will decide where to apply based in part on which schools have the best frills and amenities.

    Another part of the increase is due to a changing competitive and financial environment. Back in the day colleges didn’t have big marketing and p.r. departments; they now feel they need them to remain competitive. Public university budgets were once a fairly simple affair: the legislature made annual appropriations, and most of the rest came from tuition. Public universities didn’t have multi-billion dollar endowments to manage, or big development offices to raise the funds. Faculty did some externally funded research but it wasn’t the billion dollar enterprise it is today, with centers and institutes on every imaginable topic, each with a director and staff as well as affiliated faculty, aimed at maximizing the university’s haul of research dollars. They didn’t have big bureaucracies to supervise and audit all the externally funded research, either; truth is, supervision was minimal, and some got in trouble for it.

    That said, some of the growth is just plain bloat. I’ve never been convinced our public flagship here in Minnesota needs 8 vice-presidents, each commanding a small army of underlings to justify the VP’s existence. Seems to me 4 or 5 would suffice. But then, no one ever asked me.

    On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal survey found that at most public flagships, administrative costs amount to something less than 10% of educational costs, so maybe this isn't quite the massive crisis some make it out to be.

    The Wall Street Journal - WSJ.com
  • poetgrlpoetgrl Posts: 194
    edited May 2013
    I wouldn't label it a "crises," but I don't work in the media and don't need to write a salable headline.

    I think it is one puzzle piece of a few, and some I might not even have thought of, which are creating upward price pressure where there ought to, in my opinion, be downward price pressure. JMO

    I also have an issue with the fact, and it is a fact, that it is the professors and professor pay, which seems to be seen as the most sacrificable expense. I don't agree with that, at all.

    At any rate, maybe someone else can figure it out. I can't figure out why our universities are failing our kids, in terms of affordability. The two things I'd most like to see change would be a higher percentage of tax money going to the schools and a lower percentage of money going to administrators.

    I will bow out now. I am becoming repetitive.
  • JonLawJonLaw Posts: 4 College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    @Poetgirl:

    "At any rate, maybe someone else can figure it out. I can't figure out why our universities are failing our kids, in terms of affordability. The two things I'd most like to see change would be a higher percentage of tax money going to the schools and a lower percentage of money going to administrators."

    Um, massive infusions of yummy freshly created federal government credit.

    Who doesn't like a credit card with basically no limit?
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