Aki Soga, Free Press Editorial Page Editor. Original article: April 12, 2014.
Another executive hire, another salary boost.
The University of Vermont announced the appointment of Nancy Mathews as dean of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.
Mathews will receive a salary of $190,000 a year, a boost over the $175,959 paid to the interim dean and $177,500 to the school’s last dean.
The Free Press reports the Mathews’ hiring “extends a pattern of externally recruited senior administrators’ stepping in to UVM positions at salaries higher than their predecessors’.”
UVM, especially as a public university, must consider the consequences of executive compensation when the rising cost of a college degree and the student debt burden has become a national concern.
Whenever the pay scale for top administrators comes up, the university administration offers up the explanation that UVM must pay top dollars to compete for top talent.
By playing the market-prices hand, UVM virtually concedes the school has little to offer to distinguish itself from other institutions other than money.
This “keeping-up-with-the-Joneses” mentality is akin to the edifice complex that left campuses across the nation strewn with opulent student centers and luxury workout rooms — all in the name of being competitive.
Mathews’ salary marks a relatively modest boost over the pay of her predecessors. Other recent hires have been offered pay packages with a far more significant premium over the people who previously held the position.
- Provost David Rosowsky started in August at $375,000, topping by $100,000 what his predecessor Jane Knodell made when she stepped down in 2012.
- Tom Sullivan was given an annual salary of $417,000 when he started in 2012, compared to $322,563 earned by his predecessor. Sullivan’s current salary is $429,093.
- Antonio Cepeda-Benito, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, started at $250,000 in 2012. His precedessor, Eleanor Miller, was paid $206,346 during her year of administrative leave after stepping down. Her last salary as dean was $192,280. Cepeda-Benito’s current salary is $257,250.
The university’s market compensation fall back only feeds the cycle of escalating pay for top executives.
UVM’s argument shows a remarkable lack of imagination and innovation for an administration that likes to tout the school as a “top small research university.”
The working world is full of people who choose careers that may pay less, but offer compensation other than pay — an opportunityto be creative, to do good, to leave a mark on the next generation.
The example set by the UVM leadership tells students loud and clear that money is what matters most.