Tuesday, November 3, 2009

University President Salaries Rise and Grassley Bites

The economy appears to have recovered enough for Senator Chuck Grassley, IA, to resume his critique of the spending habits of colleges and universities.  In this press release posted on IowaPolitics.com, Grassley assails the fact that presidents at private colleges and universities saw their pay go up by an average of 6.5%. “The executive suite shouldn’t be insulated from belt-tightening,” Grassley said. “The pressure on students and families gets greater all the time. The fact that these salaries are growing right now is out of sync with the reality for most parents and students who are trying to pay for college in the midst of high unemployment and after savings for education were either wiped out or greatly diminished last year due to the stock market falling.” 

Grassley's ire was sparked by a new survey of college president salaries released today by the Chronicle of Higher Education.  A more in-depth, balanced analysis of the trend is available from U.S. News and World Report, which noted that the salaries of university presidents make up a very small percentage of the overall cost structure of any college or university and also noted that while "sticker prices" of private colleges had been rising, the schools had been giving out so many more scholarships that the average net price students actually paid for tuition, fees, room, and board had dropped by more than $1,000 since 2005 to slightly less than $12,000.

Still, the prospect of many colleges and universities giving hefty raises to their top administrators during these times of economic crises does smack a bit of Wall Street's bonus culture.  But perhaps Grassley should issue a press release about the escalating salaries of college football and basketball coaches before slamming the presidents; data shows that at universities that operate Division I athletic programs, the head football and basketball coaches are almost certain to make even more than the university president.



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