More to salaries than donations and tuition money

Ted Hamilton

$1,316,140 is roughly equal to the cost of 160 semesters at Kent State. It is also equal to about 131,614 cases of Natural Light. If you have a more expensive taste, the money could buy 77,420 cases of Bud Light or 59,824 one-liter bottles of Jagermeister.

According to the Akron Beacon Journal, the salaries of the top five highest paid administrators at Kent State also equal this amount. President Lester Lefton ($367,500), Provost Robert Frank ($260,000), men’s basketball coach Jim Christian ($252,500), Senior Vice President for Administration David Creamer ($230,000), and Vice President for Information Services Ed Mahon ($206,140) make up the group. The Beacon failed to point out former President Carol Cartwright, who was hired to stay on another year at her old salary of $270,000, which would bring the grand total to more than $1.5 million.

I am not arguing these administrators are not doing their jobs or that they are easy jobs to do. What I am wondering, however, is who are the watchdogs of public universities? Who decides to give people raises when the money is not just coming from donations and tuition, but also from taxpayers? Who should decide how much is too much money to spend on an administrator or event when the money comes from the public?

Without getting off on a tangent about disdain for public schooling (yes, I do attend a public school and not a private one because the market is thrown off by the public schools, I digress), how can taxpayers have a say in where their money goes? With primary education schools, the public can vote down a levy if there is belief the school is not spending money appropriately. In public universities such as Kent State, there is little say in whether the college is appropriately spending money by paying the way for the fifth top paid administrator to go to a different university. The money going to Case Western Reserve could have been used to help students – whether it be through financial aid or anything else the school is lacking.

If the money the administrators of our university are getting paid is the end of the university’s problems, I would think we should count ourselves lucky. But that is not the case. Just in the past year we have Mr. Lefton’s trip to Europe and the $2-million-renovation of the second floor of the University Library. I wonder if the golden toilets feel any different or if they serve black Russian caviar or maybe just the Seruva?

The question is not about whether the administrators are doing their jobs. To Mr. Lefton’s credit, retention increased among other things, and that shows he is doing a good job. Keeping the former president at her old salary and spending $2 million on offices is not an efficient way to spend the taxpayers’ money.

Ted Hamilton is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].