Our view: Trimming budgets and administrative salaries

DKS Editors

The chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis will take a 5 percent salary reduction Jan. 1. His base salary is $560,000 with a total compensation package of about $780,000.

The University of Pennsylvania president and her husband each made a $100,000 gift to the university to support undergraduate research. She earns more than $1 million, according to a recent story in the New York Times.

Even though these are both leaders of private institutions, leaders of public institutions are also finding ways to give some of their money back to their universities to send a poignant message that they are not above dealing with the tough economic times. Public university presidents have refused raises and bonuses and have made substantial contributions to their schools as well.

The president of the University of Connecticut refused a performance bonus after his first year, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Closer to home, Dr. Lois Margaret Nora, president of NEOUCOM, donated one month’s worth of her salary, amounting to $26,666, to the school. It will go to scholarships and support for disadvantaged students, according to the Record-Courier.

These are uncommon but significant gestures, and even though they represent a fraction of cuts universities may be forced to make, they can be meaningful for the university community, even if they are largely symbolic. A similar gesture could be something for our own president to consider.

The rising cost of college is outpacing family income, according to a recent report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. College tuition and fees increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007, adjusted for inflation, and the median family income only increased 147 percent. In the coming years, low-income students will find it increasingly difficult to cover college costs.

Also, many colleges, including Kent State, are suffering from losses to their endowments. University administrators are looking at ways to cut costs, and they may have few options. But they should try to think of creative ways to save money and minimize the negative financial effects for students.

Another source of public university funding may take a hit as Ohio’s $53.4 billion, two-year budget faces a $640 million shortfall. Gov. Ted Strickland, among other state governors, has asked for federal help in the form of $5 billion in block grants. There is no word yet if after the two-year tuition freeze ends, colleges and universities in Ohio will be able to raise tuition. If this happens, there is probably little doubt tuition at Kent State will increase.

Students will have to toughen up, but college administrators should make every effort to help ease their financial burden.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.