The sheep look up

I teach. I’ve been at this university for 23 years, and I try to avoid the management side of things — I stay away from the administration building, I don’t even care who is the university president as long as they leave me alone. This may have been a very bad idea.

I got a notice from the administration that they are accepting applications for interim president of the university, because the last one is abandoning us after a short 5 years of employment (that’s not surprising, U presidents seem to flit hither and yon, another reason to ignore them.) But it meant I had to take a minute to figure out what’s going on.

Our outgoing president, Joan Gabel, is paid over $700,000/year. I don’t know that she is worth that much. Now I learn that she’s being offered an additional $260,000 if she stays through June. All right, that’s a pretty sweet deal she’s had. What is she being offered by the University of Pittsburgh?

She’s had a few scandals — the biggest being that she took a position on the board of Securian, a financial company that does a lot of money management for the university. This was a serious conflict of interest, not to mention that she’s getting paid a buttload of money to be the U president, and should be devoting full time to her job. The Board of Regents said it was OK, though, although our governor said it was not. She resigned eventually. Maybe she’s mad at us because we wouldn’t let her rake in more money with a side gig?

And then, the Board of Regents…every time I hear about them, the less impressed I am. These are a bunch of politicians and business people who don’t understand the purpose of an educational system. I’ve mentioned Sviggum before — the bozo who thought UMM was “too diverse”. Now I learn that the chair of the board, Ken Powell, was the disgustingly rich CEO of General Mills who made $24 million in the year before he retired. He is, supposedly, retired, but is now appointed to the chair of the Board of Regents — he’s the guy who thought is was no problem for her to work with Securian, who approved her exorbitant salary. The Regents main purpose seems to be to dip into the university till and give money to each other.

All I can say is that if I got paid tens of millions in my last year here, I would definitely definitively absolutely retire. I’d be done. I’d go relax with my grandchildren, and wouldn’t come back to plague my university for years to come, and I certainly wouldn’t be working hard to transfer money from hardworking faculty and staff salaries to serve the leeches appointed to administrative positions.

There’s no hope that I’ll get paid that much — that’s like more than my lifetime income — but here’s the deal. Appoint me to the interim presidency, pay me like a half million for my services, and I’ll try to keep the money going to the people who really deserve it, and then quietly disappear when my term is done. You can trust me on that. I was such a good boy when the regents visited my university in March, not confronting them at all and turning around and walking away when I saw them coming. I promise to ignore all of their blandishments in the future, as well.


  1. StevoR says

    Tangential (very), sorry & this Aussie would happily make you POTUS if I only could.. & yeah, that pay disparity is absolutely.. fouled up as Fuck.

  2. weylguy says

    I have a PhD from the University of Southern California, and the situation is much worse there. I really don’t understand how capitalism infected the nation’s education system, but the notion of “talent” and “ability” surely is nothing more than political influence and “pull.” How in hell this benefits universities is simply beyond me, as it surely does not benefit the masses of adjunct faculty and (in California) the “freeway fliers” that are working for peanuts. To top it off, student tuition rates are sky-high, making a college education very questionable for poor and middle class families.

  3. R. L. Foster says

    My wife is a professor at William & Mary. She’s been doing the same job for 30 years. She’s still 8 years from retirement. She loves her work, especially the ‘kids’ as she calls them, but she admits that the thrill is gone and burnout is at hand. But when I suggested she apply for an open admin position, she looked at me as though I’d offered her three-day-old roadkill for supper. It would at least double her already decent salary, but no, she won’t even countenance it. She chaired the department once and that destroyed any illusions she may have had about campus politics. Backstabbing and double dealing are creative art forms here. There’s always that one who’s life’s goal seems to be do irreparable reputational harm to others.

  4. birgerjohansson says

    R L Foster @ 4
    It would seem foolish for even the worst narcissist to mess with anyone from the chemistry department, considering how many toxic and carcinigenic substances there are.
    Too bad if a tasteless substance found its way into his whisky bottle.
    And it would be in a room many have access to. And I would be wearing gloves (Europe had a thing called SOCO long before USA had any CSI).

  5. says

    University presidents bounce around pumping their resumes and their salaries. A lotta golf-playing business school graduates proactively leveraging their synergies.

    Education is another field being ruined by the business elite.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    BTW the Alabama governor who just fired the director of education for doing anti-racism training is probably even better paid.

  7. vereverum says

    @3 weylguy
    “To top it off, student tuition rates are sky-high, making a college education very questionable for poor and middle class families.”
    That’s the whole point of high tuition.

  8. JoeBuddha says

    Could you use a retired computer programmer? Oh, wait. I’d probably have to move there. Never mind. ;)