Phi Beta Cons

University Presidents’ Farewell Packages Hurt Students

Skyrocketing college tuition continues to put pressure on families struggling to make do in a sluggish economy. Recall the median family income is approximately $53,000 a year — less than the net price at some elite private colleges. So it is no surprise that the generous salaries of many college and university presidents have provoked some outrage.

But what about the money some presidents and top administrators make after stepping down? A recent story in the Boston Globe highlights the lavish farewell packages many university presidents walk away with. Take a look at the deal Jehuda Reinharz, former president of Brandeis University (my alma mater), got:

[Reinharz] received more than $600,000 in salary and benefits in 2011 . . . And that’s on top of the $800,000 Reinharz earned in his new job as president of the Mandel Foundation, a longtime Brandeis benefactor.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni’s Anne Neal offered her take on how these outrageous compensation packages hurt students in a letter to the Globe. She writes:

At many institutions, administrative spending is rising faster than instructional spending, in part because top administrators are so highly compensated. These misplaced priorities have a very real effect on students . . . .[W]hen colleges reduce administrative costs, they can hold down tuition without sacrificing quality.

Trustees have the responsibility to identify and curtail administrative costs. The families facing skyrocketing tuition have to make tough decisions about their finances. There is no reason college trustees and top administrators should not be doing the same thing.

Read the full letter here.

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