Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

May 20, 2014

He’s No. 1

WVU’s president highest-paid in America

If you’ve ever wondered why the cost of a college education has reached astronomical proportions, one thing to consider is the equally astronomical salaries that are paid to at least some college and university staff members.
But it isn’t that simple. The Associated Press has reported that nine American college presidents earned more than $1 million in total compensation during 2013. Even they are pikers, compared to what some college coaches earn.
Gordon Gee of West Virginia University tops the list of college presidents, receiving $6.1 million.
Gee is well-traveled. He has been president of WVU twice. He also has been chancellor of Vanderbilt University and president of Brown University, the University of Colorado and the Ohio State University (twice), from which he retired in the wake of remarks he made in jest about the University of Notre Dame.
That said, Gee was rated by Time Magazine as one of America’s Top 10 college presidents in 2010. Much of his total includes  severance pay, retirement and deferred payments from Ohio State.
Some things we’ve gleaned from various published reports:
• In 41 states, the highest paid public employee is a college coach. West Virginia University basketball coach Bob Huggins is paid $3 million and football coach Dana Holgersen makes $2.6 million. Most coaches’ salaries come in large part from revenue produced by athletic programs.
• More than 5,600 Maryland state employees earned salaries greater than $100,000 in 2012. Three out of every four work for state colleges and universities — chiefly physicians at the University System of Maryland and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. However, about two-thirds of their salaries come from private sources, including their medical practices.
• Southern states pay full-time employees less than other states do. West Virginia is in the bottom 10 on that list. 
•In many states, college employees and judicial employees rank near the top when it comes to salaries, while elementary school employees (particularly teachers) are among the lowest paid.
• At the 25 public universities with the highest-paid presidents, student debt and use of part-time faculty grew faster than that of the average state university, and spending on administration more than doubled that of spending on scholarships.
Public employees have this in common with private sector workers: Some may be paid more than they’re worth, but others are paid far less.

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