Minnesota Daily administrator pay analysis flawed

I think the Minnesota Daily’s recent analysis of University of Minnesota administrative pay is significantly flawed because it compares salaries between universities, instead of salaries within this one. The analysis claims that the word “peers” means people holding similar positions around the country. I contend that “peers” means the people with whom one works, day in and day out, to promote exemplary higher education in the state of Minnesota.

It makes far more sense to look at what administrators at the University of Minnesota are paid relative to the rest of the school community in Minnesota. There are three primary reasons for this approach. First, the University is a land-grant, publicly funded institution, created by and for the people of the state. As such, employees’ merits should be held to standards within this state. Second, a public university is not a corporation. Talking about national salary levels across the market confuses this somewhat profound distinction.

Finally, as an educational institution that is “Driven to Discover,” the University community has already acknowledged that money should not be the principal drive for school employees. The University is an educational community, and it invokes these terms of community in its slogans and mission. Thus, top salaries should be judged in relation to the lowest salaries within the community.

According to 2013 numbers, some instructors at the University have an annual salary floor of $34,043, or about one-seventeenth of President Eric Kaler’s salary. An administrator making the “mean base salary,” as reported by this paper, makes 10 times the adjunct salary. The illusion that these incredible administrators would flee the school, or that the University couldn’t find able replacements, if admin pay was cut from more than $300,000 a year to, say, $150,000, is ludicrous.

It’s only my opinion — I may be right or wrong — but I think that the University can stand to see the 50 top-paid employees at the school experience such a drop in stature.