Monday, December 5, 2011

College Presidents' Pay Up Despite Economy

Thanks to the Chronicle of Higher Education, we have just learned that the pay of private college presidents continued up in 2009 despite the economy. As reported in The New York Times, 36 presidents had an average increase of 2.2 percent. Most interesting to me is the chart showing their compensation as a percentage of university expenditures, ranging from 1% to a high of 3.5% for a school I'd never heard of: Mountain State University in West Virginia.

This president, Charles H. Polk, pulled in $1, 843, 746 in 2009.

In defense of his and other million dollar plus pay packages, David L. Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, told The Times: "There is just a small pool of candidates who possess the skill set that is required and are willing to take on the stressful 24/7 nature of the position."

The Times reporter didn't bother to quote anyone critical of these pay scales, much less anyone from the Occupy movement.

So Mountain State must be an excellent school, right? Wrong. Instead, the school may lose its accreditation early in 2012. A show-cause order by the Higher Learning Commission cited problems of monitoring of student progress, governance, and--get ready for it-- availability of resources. Seems to me that with a performance like that, everybody at Mountain State should be questioning his "skill set."

The other interesting chart shows the presidents' compensation as a multiple of average pay for professors--not adjuncts, of course, but the full-time profs. That ranges from a high of 16.1 for Stevenson University in Maryland to a low of about twice for the president of Wabash College in Indiana. Five other presidents earned at least 10 times as much as their full professors.

Stevenson has been undergoing rapid expansion in the last several years so that may be why its board of trustees thinks president Kevin J. Manning deserves to be paid so much more than the professors, a rich package worth $1,493,655. If I were a student there with student loans, I'd sure want to ask them.

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