Invest in the university, not the president’s wallet | The Triangle

Invest in the university, not the president’s wallet

The topic of administrator salaries is not an uncommon one when discussing the price of a college education. Only five years ago Drexel University was home to one of the highest-paid university presidents in the country, Constantine Papadakis, who earned a base salary of $805,000 each year. While his efforts to improve the University do not go unappreciated by students, faculty and staff, it is easy to feel a sense of dissatisfaction with that six-figure number. Could funds like these be better allocated to different areas of need within the University?

NBC News reported Oct. 14 that a university president had decided to take a hefty pay cut and reinvest his salary into the school. Raymond Burse, interim president of Kentucky State University in Frankfort, will lessen his $349,869 salary by $90,000 in order to give the University’s lowest-paid workers a raise. According to the report, Burse’s actions will result in a $3 per hour pay raise for 24 employees.

Selfless actions like Burse’s should serve as an example to other high paid officials, both in and outside the education system, to better focus on areas of need. Investing in employees is one of the most encouraging courses of action to take, and we’re proud to see Drexel stepping up in a similar way.

Earlier this week, Drexel announced major changes to its retirement plan for faculty and staff. The decision came after the University conducted a study and found that the current plan for employees was not adequate for effective retirement savings. This shows that the University takes the time to evaluate current processes and make improvements where need be.

The most significant change to the plan is that the University will match each individual’s savings by up to six percent of their salary, and offer an additional three or five percent contribution depending on the individual’s age. The new plan applies to all full-time benefit-eligible Drexel faculty and staff, allowing them to increase their savings by four to six percent compared with the current plan.

While this action demonstrates that the University cares about its employees and is willing to invest in their future, we’re sure other courses of action can result in similar improvements overall.

Just as the University reviewed its retirement plan, extraneous salaries and other fund allocations should also be evaluated. President John A. Fry’s base salary for 2011 was valued at $679,217, according to the Department of Education. We do believe Fry is working hard to improve the image of the Office of the President. He’s taken substantial efforts to reduce the overhead of the office, opting to forgo the endless entourage and personal assistants. We appreciate his humility and his continued initiatives to further improve the University, but perhaps some of the numerous bonuses and excessive salaries could be reallocated to better ends?

Academic institutions ought to work to better the conditions of their employees and students instead of padding
officials’ wallets.