Greetings Leaders!

I was reading the Sacramento Bee yesterday when I came across a relatively short article that caught my attention. The Chancellors at UC Davis and UC San Francisco are both getting pay raises, while student fees are increasing (You can read the article here…). Linda Katehi chancellor of UC Davis, will be bringing in $400,000 a year and The new chancellor of UC San Francisco, Susan Desmond-Hellmann, will make $450,000 a year. In addition, Katehi will get a $100,000 relocation allowance, free housing, corporate car plus moving expenses! These salaries are approximately a 10% increase over their predecessors.

The article rankled my feathers, but before I decided to shoot off my proverbial mouth, I did some further research and found the following:

  1. According to the AFL-CIO, the average CEO gets paid about $10 million
  2. Salary.com research indicates the average Chancellor gets paid $237,630
  3. The UC response to criticisms about it’s budget
  4. Chancellor pay is an issue for almost all universities.

Having read these different perspectives, I began to wonder if I was overreating to the issue. After all, $200,000 pales in comparison to $10 million. However, when you consider the average CEO’s pay, we need to put it in perspective.

  1. The $10 million refers to the total compensation packages of CEOs of S&P 500 companies. According to Business Week, the average CEO base salary is somewhere around $400,000
  2. The businesses run by these CEOs have no public funding
  3. They CEOs are in business to make money

After completing my research, I’ve come to the conclusion that the pay increases passed by both UC Davis and UC San Francisco are not justifiable. While the positions are obviously demanding, and the need for highly qualified candidates is an easy arguement to make, the UC education system receives public funding. This is a very important point to consider. Why? Because this funding is used to help improve the community, and to offer Californians the opportunity to obtain a higher education. This in turn helps promote long term growth in the community and secures the quality of life that many of us have become accustomed to. We must also remember that the Chancellor’s are really public servants and that even the President of the United States makes only $400,000.

I also find the argument that the increase in salary is necessary to stay competitive with other industries to be ridiculous because in times of economic hardship, especially in the current economy, to increase the Chancellor’s pay (CEOs are facing a 20% decline in pay) while increasing tuition by almost 10% is just plain nonsense.  It gives the distinct impression of elitism within our education system.

Can we go back in time two months in time please? Do you recall the uproar over the outrageous bonuses that were being dolled out to Merrill Lynch employees? This is no different. While the chancellor salaries may seem appropriate overall, it is the fact that these senior executives, who already recieve a very high salary, are getting an increase in pay using public funds, while the citizens of California are being asked to sacrifice. I don’t see how this equates to good decision making or good leadership.

To lead with honor, we need to put ordinary citizens needs before our own. UC Davis and UCSF could have won over public popular opinion by not increasing these salaries. Instead, they just confirmed the impression that our senior leaders, even in education, are out of touch with reality.

All the best,
All the time,
JT

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