image by flickr user Sal Falko, cc license
Today, the New York Times published the topline results of a report by the Institute for Policy Studies. The report, The One Percent at State U: How University Presidents Profit from Rising Student Debt and Low-Wage Faculty Labor, details how public universities that pay a top-25 salary for their president have experienced a faster increase in student debt levels than other public universities.
At these colleges that compensate their president with a top-25 public sector salary, tuition rose by an average of 61% from Fall 2005 to Fall 2012. During that same period, however, scholarship money only increased by 46%. The report further emphasizes the difference between administration costs and scholarship spending: more than $2 were spent on administration for every $1 spent on student scholarships.
Also notable in the report is that these universities can also be characterized by a significant and higher-than-average decline in permanent faculty positions. Instead of full professors educating students, these public universities with high president compensation have increased positions and work for adjunct faculty, who are famously underpaid and usually without benefits.
This trend may not stop soon. University president compensation, on average, continues to rise. The median pay over the past year has risen 5%, up to its current median level of nearly $480,000. However, those universities who compensate their presidents the most are outpacing other public universities with their compensation pacakages. “While the average executive compensation at public research universities increased 14 percent from 2009 to 2012, to an average of $544,554, compensation for the presidents of the highest-paying universities increased by a third, to $974,006, during that period.”
Curious about seeing how your local university’s president compensation stacks up? In a beautifully timed release, the Chronicle of Higher Education published their public executive pay table on Sunday. You sort by state and by system types. It’s worth a look, although some parents will certainly be frustrated by some of these public sector salaries.