Eric Kaler is overpaid

Calling on the incoming president — a public servant — to cut his salary.

Daily Editorial Board

Incoming University President Eric Kaler recently said at a public forum that his new $610,000 base salary is âÄúreasonable.âÄù We beg to differ.
In defense of his exorbitant level of compensation, to which many benefits will be added, Kaler noted that it falls âÄúin the middle range for presidents in the Big Ten.âÄù ThatâÄôs true enough, but such a superficial argument deserves a platitude in response: Just because everyone else is doing it doesnâÄôt make it right.
Across the board, Big Ten universities are facing declining endowments, tuition increases and national economic hardship. Set against this backdrop, the trend of escalating administrative pay is simply inexcusable. As recently as 2004, President Bob BruininksâÄô net pay âÄî with benefits âÄî was reported at only $390,000.
Of course, the default argument in defense of high administrative pay is the need to maintain competitive salaries relative to comparable institutions. But it is a fallacy, especially in this economy, that we need to pay top dollar to attract top talent.
After all, this is a public educational institution, not a private one. ItâÄôs certainly not a business. If we run it like one, we send the signal that the bottom line is a more compelling motivator than the public good.
For a little perspective, the President of the United States earns exactly $400,000 a year. ThatâÄôs hardly a pittance, but also hardly commensurate with the weight of that officeâÄôs responsibilities. Why? Because, at least in theory, the president is elected to serve, not to profit.
President Kaler: If you really want to show your dedication to serving this University, the first thing you can do is address out of control administrative salaries, starting with your own.