Schools make sense of salaries

The University should consider linking bonuses and pay raises to student-oriented outcomes.

The University of Minnesota received criticism for administrative bloat in a 2012 Wall Street Journal article, which reported on a growing trend of increased administrative hiring and spending at public universities. The article still stings the University more than a year later, drawing critical attention to the administration in the Twin Cities and at other schools.

Since the story came out, the University has hired an outside consulting firm to investigate whether administrative spending is indeed out of line in comparison with similarly sized research universities.

The Minnesota Daily reported the results of Huron Consulting Group’s report in June. The report found that “the University does not stand out among its peers for administration spending” but also pointed out areas where the University could increase efficiency.

Other universities have turned to more unorthodox measures to keep spending in line and corresponding with student-oriented goals. The University of Texas system, Purdue University, the University of Arizona and Arizona State University have employed measures linking presidential pay to the success of student outcomes. The size of presidents’ bonuses and pay raises at these schools is in part contingent on measures like lowering student debt and growth in research grants.

University President Eric Kaler has twice given away a salary raise to place it in a scholarship fund for University undergraduates, and he has made it clear in doing so that he doesn’t want administrative spending to overshadow student needs.

In the spirit of Kaler’s willingness to give away these raises, the University should consider a linkage program to make administrative compensation more dependent on specific student outcomes.