Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Cost of "Top Talent"

State legislators called the President to the Capitol to express the public outrage at the lavish going away presents to the departing senior administrators.  A public flogging became necessary because the senior administrators are so far removed from the economic lives of the students and their parents and the public at large.
The President pointed his finger at his predecessor for being "very generous."  Then, apparently without realizing that he could just as well point the finger at himself, he disclosed that the fix is in for him to receive a year long leave at $610,000 when he leaves office.
Will he not already have received sufficient compensation for his services at an annual salary of $610,000 plus an annual contribution of $50,000 to his retirement account starting in his second year?
"No," answers the President.  He tells the legislators and us that his extravagant compensation and that of the other senior administrators is necessary "in a highly competitive global market for top  talent."  See the March 7, 2012 report in the Star Tribune.
Do we have "top talent?"  What is the measurement?  Who does the measuring?
Lavish compensation is not necessary to attract and retain qualified persons to public service.  The compensation of senior administrators at the U of M far exceeds the compensation of senior administrators in state government who have similar qualifications and duties.  See On The Cost of Administration
It now takes scores of students and their parents paying full tuition to support the salary and benefits of a single senior administrator at the U of M.
Senior administrators are stewards of the financial resources of the University.  Using those resources to enrich themselves with "transitional" compensation and golden parachutes places the University at risk of losing the continuing goodwill and financial support of donors, state legislators, and the general public.  Is "top talent" worth that cost?

Michael W. McNabb
University of Minnesota B.A. 1971; J.D. 1974

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