Presidents Defend Their Pay as Public Colleges Slash Budgets

by E Wayne Ross on April 4, 2011

The Chronicle: Presidents Defend Their Pay as Public Colleges Slash Budgets

The total cost of employing Francisco G. Cigarroa, chancellor of the U. of Texas system, was $813,892 in the 2009-10 fiscal year.

The highest-paid public-college executives, who receive compensation packages in the high six figures and more, walk a difficult political tightrope. They must at once argue that their state budgets have been cut to the bone and need to be restored, while at the same time acknowledging their rarefied personal financial circumstances in states where layoffs, program closures, and pay reductions have been all too common. In making that case, presidents and the trustees who set their salaries have for years argued that, irrespective of economic conditions, those presidential pay levels are fair, necessary, and performance-driven. While that case appears to have been effectively made in many states, some higher-education officials and compensation experts say a prolonged budget crisis could hamstring the wealthiest presidents as they argue that their institutions are deserving of increasingly scarce public resources.