December 17, 2013

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: College Presidents Make a Killing While Schools Struggle.

Tuition revenue and enrollment for colleges are falling, but the people at the top aren’t feeling the pain. 2011 was a banner year for executive pay on campus, with college presidents raking in more money than ever before. Including bonuses and benefits, 42 presidents took home $1 million. Many of these presidents saw their pay double or triple over that year, according to data collected by the Chronicle of Higher Education. . . .

It may be true that higher salaries help attract better presidents, but with revenue sources getting weaker, most colleges should be looking for a ways to cut back, not spend more. Administrative spending, in particular, has always been a key driver of the exploding cost of college, and is where most of the cutting ought to begin as colleges tighten their belts. If lower-level administrators and faculty begin to feel serious cuts, these massive salaries for presidents will become much more difficult to defend.

Begin to feel? As I’ve suggested elsewhere, perhaps we need to think about outsourcing most higher education administration to low-paid, contract-worker “adjunct administrators.”