While university presidents earn millions, many professors struggle

8 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Pay increases for private college leaders.

Students who graduate from private colleges with the highest paid college presidents will likely have to work for decades to earn what the president makes in just one year. In a survey of private US universities released Sunday by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the typical president at a private university earned an annual salary of $436,429 in 2013, up 5.6 percent from the year before.The presidents of Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania both earned more than $3 million in 2013, topping a new national survey of compensation at hundreds of private higher education institutions. The Chronicle’s list, which covers the 2013 calendar year (the most recent for which full information is available), reveals presidents of 32 different private colleges are making at least $1 million a year.

Meanwhile, students who attended those schools earned anywhere between $37,500 and $81,100, on average 10 years after leaving school, according to government data on the outcomes of federal student loan borrowers. The findings, published Dec. 6, also revealed that more than 32 public and private college presidents—out of over 500 examined—made $1 million or more in 2013. Columbia University’s Lee Bollinger, the longest-serving president of an Ivy League university, netted $4.6 million in base pay, incentive payments, and other compensation (including $1.26 million in deferred payments, a form of compensation awarded to presidents when they stay on at a school long enough). And students who earn a relatively low salary would have to earn more than 75 years worth of salaries to make the same amount as their college president.

In 2013, NPR reported that these itinerant teachers make up 75 percent of college professors, and their pay averages between $20,000 and $25,000 annually. And this trend may be long term, as three in four college professors are not on a tenure track, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) reports. “The core mission of the university is instruction and research,” Gwen Bradley, an AAUP senior program officer, tells The Christian Science Monitor in a phone interview Tuesday. “These should be funded first before raising presidents or coaches salaries. That number can fluctuate substantially year-to-year because most people earning that much reach that level because of one-year bonuses and other benefits. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC The compensation data is taken from tax documents of private nonprofit bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral institutions with the 500 largest endowments.

Instead, college boards of trustees take all sorts of other metrics into consideration such as the salaries of college presidents at peer institutions, how much money they raise for the school, the recognition they’re able to draw to the college and the programs they start or grow at the school. These [missions] should take priority.” According to a 2015 study by the UC Berkeley Labor Center, 25 percent of part-time college faculty and their families are enrolled in a at least one public assistance program such as Medicaid or food stamps. “Every day I live two people’s lives and it’s fatiguing. A separate survey of public university presidents finds their pay is lower, with only two million-dollar earners, but is growing faster, with a 7 percent increase in 2014. Leaders at High Point and several other high-paying colleges told the Chronicle that their presidents’ salaries are a reflection of institutional ambitions.

Every day I need more time with students while being pulled away from them,” Lee Hall, an adjunct professor for the Legal Education Institute at Widener University, writes in an opinion piece for the Guardian. Even so, the rise in presidential pay comes at a time when schools are being urged to keep costs down and temper the alarming swell of student debt around the country. Those comparisons are reasonable for the public and policy makers to make “when students are leaving with a lot of debt, when many of them are in arrears with their loan repayment, when they’re typically not going to be earning salaries commensurate with the enormous amount that’s being paid in tuition,” he said. In Bollinger’s case, it includes over a million dollars in pay that was deferred over the past 11 years, a tactic many colleges use to encourage presidents to remain long-term. MarketWatch reached out to representatives of all of the universities on the list and many highlighted the increases in selectivity, diversity, endowments, research and growth of the campus itself over their presidents’ tenure as reasons for their relatively high compensation.

While the schools with the highest-paid presidents include two Ivy League members, one of the best-paid presidents is Nido Qubein, who earned over $2.9 million for his management of the relatively minor High Point University in North Carolina. Trustees say they must pay top dollar to get the best executives for highly demanding positions that require expertise in academics, fund-raising and operations of huge research and teaching enterprises.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was asked about college affordability in New Hampshire last week. “These colleges, they’re going through the roof,” he said. “Why are they going up so much?” Among other reasons, Trump pointed to executive pay. “You look at the salaries paid to the heads of colleges, it’s like they’re running a business — a real business, a big business. Exceptions aside, the increasingly high salaries of university presidents are attracting more and more attention in an environment where tuition is outpacing inflation and top universities are piling up enormous endowments tax-free. Under Qubein’s tenure, which began in 2005, High Point created programs to prepare students for in-demand fields such as pharmacy and graphic design, Pam Haynes, a High Point spokeswoman wrote in an email.

He said he would like to see more college presidents eschew the high pay and pomp and circumstance, like welcoming parades or parties, that often come with taking the helm of a university and instead recognize that the current economic situation calls for some sacrifice.

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