“You get raises?”

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BY JONATHAN REES

Last week, I went to a meeting with our system’s Chancellor, Tony Frank, who is also the President of the Colorado State System’s flagship campus, CSU-Fort Collins. I was sitting in on a Faculty Senate meeting with no planned agenda except to ask Frank questions.  Nonetheless, almost every single question was something along the lines of, “Why can’t we have a raise?”  You see, CSU-Pueblo faculty have only had one raise in the last eight years (or maybe it’s nine now, I lose track).  To make matters worse, our colleagues at Fort Collins get them fairly regularly.  But according to this article from last Sunday’s Fort Collins Coloradoan, administrators in Fort Collins get more money just as regularly:

Salaries of the seven administrators closest to CSU President Tony Frank increased by an average 3.38 percent in 2015, nearly a percentage point more than the average raise received by university’s entire faculty and staff roster.

The seven who report to Frank received an average dollar increase four times greater than the university average. They all were making six-figures already, making even standard raises reflect higher dollar figures.

Even when that pool is broadened to include all 21 vice presidents and deans listed on the organizational chart under Provost Rick Miranda’s purview at the time of Colorado State University’s annual salary increase exercise, the percentage increase still outstrips that of the university as a whole by a half point.

Wanna know what working in public sector academia for so long has done to me?  It’s sort of like that old Monty Python sketch about the four Yorkshiremen looking back on their ridiculously tough lives.  Instead of being outraged about how administrators in our system are getting relatively richer, my first, extremely strong inclination when an AAUP colleague at Fort Collins sent this link to me was to e-mail back, “You get raises?”  I’m sure my contingent colleagues out there have similar thoughts about my complaints here.  In today’s academia, everything is relative.

Well, maybe not quite EVERYTHING.  This is from a different article in that same issue of the Coloradoan:

Two former chancellors remain among Colorado State University System’s highest-paid employees, months and even years after resigning from a standalone post that has since been eliminated.

Chancellor Emeritus Mike Martin’s $305,000 annual salary places him just outside of the top 10 list of highest paid CSU Fort Collins and CSU System employees — and makes him the second highest-paid CSU System employee, only behind Chancellor and CSU President Tony Frank’s No. 2, Amy Parsons.

In many ways, I’m a lousy radical.  I’ve seen how hard the presidents of the university I work for work, and no matter how much I think I deserve a raise I won’t begrudge them a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year more than me. I’d much, much rather teach than raise money, listen to complaints and attend public events seven days a week, nearly 365 days a year.  But the notion of paying $305,000/year for an EX-Chancellor is something that everyone from all walks of academic life really ought to find outrageous.  Here’s how my CSU-Pueblo colleague Tim McGettigan put it in the Denver Post last year:

Sure, tuition may be going through the roof; CSUP students may have recently launched a food relief program (called the Pack Pantry) for starving students, staff and faculty; and Rocky Mountain PBS may have recently reported that 78 percent of the instructors at Colorado community colleges are working for poverty-level wages. But what Colorado’s hard-pressed students need more than anything is a few more emeritus chancellors to populate the luxury boxes at Frank’s new stadium.

I’m both a faculty member and the parent of a CSU-Fort Collins student so with respect to the salaries of active administrators the effect is something of a wash, but with respect to pay for ex-chancellors I can’t decide which hat I have to wear in order to make me angrier.

Turning academia into big business is depressing enough without bringing in the golden parachutes.

 

 

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