In the face of a $16 million budget cut, Miami University’s senate will soon take on the issue of the disparity of salary increases between administrators and faculty.
A comparison between salary rosters in the past three years shows that on average, the salaries of the president, provost and academic deans increased by 5.75 percent for the 2007-08 school year, and by 7.71 percent in the 2008-09 school year. The salaries of the senior associate provost and senior associate deans increased by an average of 13.17 percent in 2007-08 and 8.63 percent in 2008-09.*
The administrators with the highest pay increases since the 2006-07 school year include Roger Jenkins, dean of the Farmer School of Business with an average increase of 18.9 percent; Phyllis Callahan, associate dean of the College of Arts & Science at 15.62 percent; and Christine Noble, senior associate dean of the School of Engineering at 14.05 percent.
“I just think these salary increases are outrageous, the people who are actually delivering Miami’s product, Miami’s education, are at the bottom of the salary pool,” economics professor Rich Hart, who has spent all but one of his 35 years in education at Miami, said.
Hart said data he collected shows an average 2 percent salary increase each year for faculty.
This is all while Miami has announced a tighter budget for the near future, particularly in light of a projected $22 million in budget shortfalls for the 2009-10 school year, and the state of Ohio’s $7 billion in deficits-the biggest ever for the state.
Miami has already announced that the university faces layoffs, capital project delays and a hiring freeze for staff will be in place until June 30.
Miami President David Hodge, who since his 2006 arrival in Oxford has seen his salary increase by $55,000, attributed pay raises to a number of factors, including the cost of bringing in new top administrators from a national pool, compensating for outside fundraising efforts, and other administrators such as himself receiving new contracts in years when the financial state of the school was better.
“I came in at a fairly low salary, certainly much lower than that of the president of Kent State (University), who was hired at the same time … At the end of (2006-07), (the Board of Trustees) said, ‘We really like what you’re doing, we want to create a new contract for you, ‘” Hodge said. “So we negotiated the contract, that made me something like the fifth or sixth highest paid university president in Ohio … since that time I’ve made it very clear that I won’t accept any pay raises that are greater than the average raise in a given year.”
Hodge turned down a $68,000 performance-based bonus from the Board of Trustees in fall 2008.
Hodge also receives a lower salary than the average public university president. In November, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the median pay and benefits for the presidents of 184 public research universities was $427,400.
Hodge, after signing his new contract that raised his salary by 11.76 percent, will earn $380,000 this year.
In Columbus, The Ohio State University employs the highest-paid public university president in the nation, Gordon Gee, who made $1,346,225 along with a $310,000 bonus in 2007-08.
Although Hodge’s salary is relatively low, some professors are still concerned with the overall pay increases of administrators when budgets are tight, claiming that college administrators, as a whole, are overpaid.
“$380,000, you’re right, is low for a president of a major university,” Hart said. “But that doesn’t mean he’s underpaid, just means all these other presidents are overpaid … My general feeling about all these administrators is that they’re grossly overpaid.”
Economics Professor Jim Brock, who has been at Miami for 29 years, is concerned that the Board of Trustees even made the gesture of offering Hodge a bonus on top of a restructured contract.
“I have high hopes for President Hodge,” Brock said. “But the Board thinks, wishes, that the higher and higher the salary, the better leadership we get … And this $68,000 performance-based bonus-that they would even offer that, and (then) tell everybody else there’s no room in the pantry-what school of management is that? The idiot school of management.”
Brock added that the administrative spending of the different dean’s offices has increased between 138 percent (for the Farmer School of Business) and 350 percent for the School of Engineering since the 2000-01 school year.
The debate of the disparity of salary increases between administrators and faculty takes its next step Jan. 26, when the University Senate’s Faculty Welfare Committee presents a report to the Senate.
Miami Provost Jeffrey Herbst, who chairs university senate, did not comment on the expected report but said that “in a time of significant budget challenges, (Miami) is committed to teaching undergraduates.”
Both sides of the debate say they hope to come to solutions soon.
“What you’ve seen is very unfortunate across all universities, a gap between faculty and administration,” Brock said. “That, increasingly, (the) people in Roudebush that are lightyears removed from the classroom measure in quantitative measures (and) lose sight of quality. That’s what most concerns me.”
Hodge looks forward to what the report presented on Jan. 26 will find.
“I’m not disputing the major thrust of the report, we want to pay our faculty more, and the faculty are looking at some things and saying ‘why is this this way?’ Fair enough, good questions,” he said. “When we hire administrators, we have to go out and search on a national market, and when you do that … to compete and get the best administrators, we have to pay a competitive wage, and there’s been more inflation in the market. Now you can still say that’s not a good idea, and I’m happy to have that argument, but I think we need to have an argument.”
*Salary data used was from the 2006-07, 2007-08, and 2008-09 Miami University salary rosters, which are public record and can be found in King Library.