Friday, July 30, 2010

Chairman of Board of Regents

Floats Trial Balloon for Big Bucks

for New University of Minnesota President

As we use to say at 3M (facetiously): "You can buy a better product, but you can't pay more money."

Or, if you pay a lot of money then he or she (new president) must be good?

From MPR:

University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks ranks as one of the highest-paid public college presidents in the U.S.

His base salary is $455,000 a year. Add retirement funds to the mix, and the total compensation package is almost $650,000.

The university also allows Bruininks to crash on its couch, so to speak. He lives at the university's official residence, Eastcliff, a stately, 20-room, 10,000-square-foot mansion on the banks of the Mississippi River.

But is all that enough to attract a top candidate to become the school's next leader?

Clyde Allen, chair of the university's Board of Regents, isn't sure. He says it could take more.

"If you want just the right person who's going to get the most out of what we do spend on the university, that may be a very, very good investment," he said.

[Sick, just sick...]

That could be controversial when the state faces a multi-billion-dollar budget deficit and student tuition continues to rise. Republican state Sen. Gen Olson, of Minnetrista, isn't sure now is the time for such a request. "Just because somebody else, some other system or some other state is doing it -- I think we have to consider Minnesota and what Minnesotans want too," she says.

Olson says if MnSCU and the U of M want to increase the already healthy salaries of their presidents, they also need to convince taxpayers it's necessary.

Saranna Thornton is an economics professor in Virginia. She also chairs a committee for the American Association of University Professors that monitors the economic status of the higher education profession.

She says pumping up the pay for a new president could be a tough sell to faculty and staff on MnSCU and U of M campuses since they've seen relatively small pay increases in recent years.

"There starts to be morale issues when compensation for presidents is increasing dramatically and compensation for faculty is remaining relatively flat."

Thornton says incoming presidents may have a hard time leading by example if they negotiate big salaries, and then need to make budget cuts or reduce the salaries of faculty and staff.

I think it is time for the Board of Regents to start realizing that some of their actions, although well meaning, contribute to the disaster that is the current relationship of the U and the state legislature. Making statements like this, Chair Allen, is counterproductive and inflammatory.


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