Monday, November 15, 2010

Millionaire College Presidents Grow Along With the Soup Line for Their Graduates. When Will American Students Take a Stand?

Something you won't see in America anytime soon. Students in London protesting a tuition hike from - don't laugh - $9,600 to $14,400 in tuition a year. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Things aren't going too well for the young people in the UK. Many of them are just like you and me; highly educated, overqualified, and underemployed. One unemployed masters degree student in the UK has resorted to standing on the street like a hobo asking for any type of work.

So I was very proud when I read that our British counterparts weren't just going to sit on their asses and do nothing about skyrocketing tuition rates whilst their nation goes to hell in a handbasket. Why isn't a tuition protest on a scale such as the one in London last week happening in America, land of the free and the home of the brave? Why aren't parents, students, and unemployed graduates storming the universities with pitch forks for raising tuition to pay its presidents more than $1 million each year?

Thousands of students in London are willing to be arrested and scuffle with armed policemen to stop the conservative party there from increasing tuition by a mere $5,264. That is chump change for American students nowadays. Isn't that how much American students spend to eat in the damn cafeteria?

I think we are pass the point of trying to be nice with these people. For those of you who attended one of the 30 colleges who pay their president close or more than $1 million per annum: ask yourself how much of your non-dischargeable student loan debt went to paying these scumbags along with their country club membership. Are you angry yet? You should be:

Thirty presidents received more than $1 million in pay and benefits in 2008, according to an analysis of federal tax forms by The Chronicle of Higher Education. More than 1 in 5 chief executives at the 448 institutions surveyed topped $600,000.

Most of the pay packages were negotiated before the full force of the recession. But even if the numbers dip slightly in next year's survey, executive pay is expected to keep climbing over the long term as colleges compete for top talent. And schools are rewarding executives while raising tuition, exposing themselves to criticism.

At large research universities, the median pay was $760,774; it was $387,923 at liberal arts colleges and $352,257 at undergraduate and graduate colleges and universities.

The highest paid executive in the Chronicle survey was Bernard Lander, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi and sociologist who founded Touro College in New York in 1970. He died in February at 94.

Lander received a compensation package of nearly $4.8 million. In a statement, the college said $4.2 million of that was retroactive pay and benefits awarded after an outside consultant determined Lander had been "severely underpaid."

Several deals reported the Chronicle survey, which covers the most recent available data, included deferred compensation or other unusual circumstances. Comparisons to past years aren't possible because of changes in how data is reported to the Internal Revenue Service. Colleges were asked to report salaries by calendar year instead of fiscal year as in the past, so most dollar amounts overlap with what was reported the previous year.

Another change: Perks including first-class air travel, country club dues and housing are now included in reported pay.

In 2007-2008, 23 presidents received more than $1 million. As recently as 2004, no college president had broken the seven-figure threshold.

While some presidents on the latest list lead ultra-selective schools such as Columbia, Yale and Penn, executives from schools such as the University of Tulsa and Chapman University in Orange, Calif., are on it, too.

Not all the most elite schools are represented, either. The presidents of Harvard, Princeton and Johns Hopkins all were paid in the $800,000s.

"Value is in the eyes of the beholder," said Jeffrey Selingo, editor of the Chronicle. "Some boards think these presidents, even at small institutions, are worth it. On the flip side, the prestige of serving at other institutions is enough of a paycheck for some."

Still, numbers in the tax forms don't always tell the whole story.

Chapman University President James Doti's $1.25 million compensation includes two "golden handcuff" deferred compensation deals worth almost $665,000, spokeswoman Mary Platt said. She said the board did not want to lose Doti, who since taking the job in 1991 has raised the school's profile and overseen expansive building projects.

He and other college presidents have donated a portion of the earnings back to the college. Doti gave a $1 million gift for an endowed chair in economics.

I knew America was headed downhill the moment the education system became a for-profit business as with our health care system and everything else that most developed nations cover for their citizens rather than having it privatized to greedy CEOs.

The real revolution against the corporate machine is now in Europe and I hope for the sake of humankind that people in other parts of the world will not allow what is happening in the United States to happen in their country. If this is the way to prevent the education scam from starting in the UK, then by all means these students should do whatever is necessary to stop it from happening. American students and recent unemployed graduates, this is how you get these leeches and swine to listen to your concerns.

Credit: Dominic Lipinski/Press Association, via Associated Press


  1. American students are incapable of revolution or protest. Notice I didn't write 'unwilling', just incapable.

  2. If you can't afford something, then don't buy it. You have no right to smash the owner's store over it.

    UK kids are like US welfare mamas - they all want free stuff.

  3. Hi hardknocks,
    I think that the US kids feel scared and helpless. They don't think that they can make a change if they took to the streets - no one seems to be listening to them. But then, no one seems to be listening to their parents either - Congressional approval is around 20-30%, but still the overwhelming majority get re-elected. Also, the students worry that there will be large impacts on them if they protest. They are concerned about discipline from their schools - which may kick them out - and leave them with their non-dischargable student loans.

    That being said, I really wish students would get out there and make their presence known. We have long stopped making decisions in the US based on what is best for the future - instead the money just goes to the loudest - so the students need to be a heck of a lot louder!

    With regard to the $1M salaries, its simply shameful. I understand that some of the university systems are really multi-billion dollar corporations with 10s of thousands of employees, but the salary is still disgraceful. Of course, what gets me even more fired up is when they pay the football coach $500K - or even any more than $250K.

  4. Great post, Hardknocks. I agree with Managing Partner, I think the students think they can't change anything and have no power, so why bother? But we need to band together and do something.

  5. LOL@"Lander had been 'severely underpaid.'"

    American students aren't protesting because protest specifically, and collective action generally, has been successfully stigmatized in this country. Americans have drunk the kool-aid that individualism = passivity.

  6. Stuff like this goes to show that Gen Y is screwed not only in America, but also screwed around the world.

    Unemployment amongst the younger crowd have been rampant in Europe for over a decade now and even developing economies (i.e China) are having a hard time fully employing their college grads.

    And this is despite the fact birth rates around the world have been falling since the late 1970s.

    @ Managing Director.

    While I agree with the majority of your post, I disagree with the aspect of the football coach salary. If a coach can field a solid team year in and year out and can bring positive exposure and revenues into the school (as well as the surrounding college town's local economy), I have no problem with the Nick Sabans and the Pete Carrolls out there.

  7. Anon332:

    This is, in fact, BECAUSE birth rates have been declining. Capitalism requires a constant influx of demand. This demand comes from an exponentially growing population. When population growth starts leveling off (as it has, at least globally on average) demand starts to drop. When demand drops people get laid off. Seniority rules, the young people are out first.

  8. American students are incapable of revolution, revolt or protest. Since they've been in diapers they've been told that "good" girls and boys don't make waves. They should be quiet, study hard and get a good job. From peer pressure they learn not risk too much and then fail. They want safe, secure and no risk.

  9. @Alton.

    I'm "anon332". I respectfully disagree.

    The exponentially growing demand that you mention, while true, is currently being fulfilled by immigrants who come to the US as well as emerging new markets in the globalsphere.

    As discussed here in BIDER as well as other blog, this globalsphere hasn't exactly been fair when it comes to the US's POV.

    Another factor of the demand side of the supply and demand curve that you mention is that supply of (insert item) is not infinite and will often run out. Increased demands, in turn, will also drive prices up (see commodities) making power power decrease.

    There are many, many factors out there that have contributed to our current state. Declining birthrates is not one of them.

  10. One other factor that makes today's students afraid to revolt is a lot of them (like 0L lemmings) still hold onto that slight hope that they will one day get a sufficient job.

    As such, many of them resort to obedience thinking of "gosh, what if I get caught acting up and my face shows up on Youtube or my record shows up on a background check... my chances will be forever screwed".

  11. Sorry but being passive means you are a sheep & need to wake up. I think it's more like laziness not leading to revolt & the need to have someone light a fire under some of these folk.

    Not to mention some of them are a little too comfortable; when you've had to fight to get basic fairness, concerns about nicety go right out the window. Does anyone HONESTLY think we'd have racial equality & non-segregated bathrooms if people in the 1960s acted like the wastes of skin we have today???

    Do you REALLY think the power structure would have developed a conscience & given rights to minorities if they hadn't fought for them?

    If you do, natural selection needs to take care of you. If you're a sane person, then do as Hardknocks says & get off your fat, moronic behind.

  12. Trashing property is not protesting. The kids weren't angry about racism, rather that they can't afford a service for which the cost has gone up.

    The London story is not even related to the law school scam, which is an evil beast unto itself.

  13. anon @ 6:21pm: Are you saying that the only thing worth fighting for is racism? This isn't just a "service". This is the education system. When you allow higher education to be inaccessible for those who can't pay for it, you end up becoming much like the position American students are in right now with hundreds of thousands in student loan debt. BIDER covers both the law school scam as well as the higher education scam in general and that includes tuition, loans, and professor salaries.

  14. "Trashing property is not protesting."

    It can be.

    "The kids weren't angry about racism, rather that they can't afford a service for which the cost has gone up."

    If a service is indispensable or the key to social mobility, denying people the service on account of their wealth - and not their merit - is a blatant rejection of modern democratic principles.

    "The London story is not even related to the law school scam, which is an evil beast unto itself."

    It most certainly is. You just have to realize when the same principles play out in different systems and under different circumstances.

  15. Americans are passive, for many reasons:

    (a) They have too many toys; as George Carlin pointed out, "Everyone wants a cell phone that will massage their balls and make waffles."

    (b) Since infancy, they have been told to not rock the boat.

    (c) Even Vietnam War protests did not occur until after the draft was instituted, and many felt that college students were at risk of being shipped out.

    (d) Everyone in this country is too worried about their rants or political views hurting them when they look for jobs. To be fair, this is a legitimate fear - as empoyers want conformists, not "rebels" or troublemakers.

    (e) The rise of American Christianity teaches that obedience and compliance are the most virtuous traits one can have. In the real world, this means that one should not disobey parents, the state, or any authority figures. (Why would they teach this concept?!?! Oh yeah, so no one calls out the guy in the religious frock or funny hat on his patent idiocy and nonsense.)

    Americans will not revolt. They are too complacent and comofortable. Also, those who live in England or France have a tradition of taking to the streets. We do not. Americans are happy to order another large pizza, grab a case of beer, watch the football game, scratch their asses, and pick their noses. Give them a nice dose of TV, and they are happy. (It seems that Americans get more upset when you raise their ATM fees by $0.50 or raise their property taxes by $10 a year than they are for legitimate purposes - such as a 10% increase in college tuition.)

  16. WE are entering another period like the 1930's with two paths. Except this time in the USA there is no real youth progressive movement to counterweight the facist movement. Watch as Americans willingly switch white shirts for brown or black. Now all you have to figure is who will be the "other" to persecute.

  17. The "Americans are too comfortable" arguement is starting to make less and less sense. The general standard of living in this country vis-a-vis other affluent countries has been steadily declining for decades, and the current meltdown in the economy is only increasing the rate of decline. Increasingly, Americans are NOT comfortable. Which makes their continuing passivity all the more pathetic.



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