Pay for college chiefs rising fast
Their compensation has outpaced inflation for five years, prompting demands for oversight, disclosure.
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By contrast, salary increases for the nation's professors outpaced inflation just twice in the past four academic years, according to the American Association of University Professors. Student tuition, meanwhile, has grown by almost a third in the last five years at public four-year universities, according to the College Board.Skip to next paragraph
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In addition to their base salaries, university executives often get a variety of perks such as incentive bonuses and hefty housing and car allowances.
In some cases, they make even more money outside of academia. University of California at San Diego's chancellor, for example, reportedly earned almost as much as her annual university salary in 2006 serving on 10 boards of directors. The university system set limits on board service in 2007.
Nationally, a survey by the Chronicle for Higher Education found that average public-university president compensation was $397,000 in 2006-07. Eight public institutions paid over $700,000 that year compared with two the previous year.
Ms. Taiz, the faculty association president and a history professor at Cal State Los Angeles, blames the salary increases in part on competition from private universities, which have higher salaries than do public institutions.
Claire Van Ummersen, a vice president with the American Council on Education, says there's a smaller pool of talent, especially for top-notch research institutions. This is especially true as baby boomers begin to retire, says Ms. Van Ummersen, who served as president of Cleveland State University and chancellor of the University System of New Hampshire.
Universities also have to fight to woo executives away from the private sector, where companies may be equal in size and budget to universities but pay executives much more, she says.
Taiz is unimpressed by such arguments. She says it makes no sense for university chancellors to make more than the governor of California. "Public servants don't go into public service for the money, or ought not to," she says.
For the moment, there's no national movement to put a lid on executive salaries. But in California lawmakers have pushed to make it harder for higher education officials to keep executive salaries under wraps.
"The university's defense is, 'We have to pay for the best people.' They should say that and be upright and straightforward about it," says James Savage, a professor of politics at the University of Virginia.