Anybody having a few problems paying off student loans will feel better after getting acquainted with Vanderbilt University’s chancellor, E. Gordon Gee. Mr. Gee gets paid $1.4 million a year for doing his chancellorizing.
That does not completely cover Gee’s compensation “package,” as they like to call it when a person’s pay begins to nose up into the stratosphere. It does not include the $6 million spent to spruce up his official residence. Nor does it include what it costs to provide Gee with a private chef, entertaining expenses and other what-nots essential to his work, which runs to the tune of $700,000 per annum.
If you think that publication of these figures has put Gee’s job in jeopardy, you are dead wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth. Gee is in the best of odors with his board of trustees. The last thing in the world they have in mind is giving him the boot.
High hoggism is by no means restricted to Gee. The Wall Street Journal reports, for example, that “American University last fall forced out President Benjamin Ladner after auditors questioned more than $500,000 in expenditures by him and his wife. The Washington, DC, university paid for the couple’s birthday parties and European vacations in first-class hotels, according to the audit. Investigators found the Ladners once stopped in Rome on a business trip to Dubai so she could have her hair cut by a favorite stylist.”
California, which is often the first and largest in whatever is under discussion, has lived up to its reputation in the matter of pay for state university and college officials. An audit last spring uncovered $334 million in pay and perks to higher education administrators, which nobody outside the ring of participants in the largesse had known about previously.
Included in that $334 million package was a $30,000 dog run, although I am at a loss to guess how you could spend so much money on such a thing. The dog run was ordered up by the late Denice Denton, chancellor of the University of California at Santa Cruz, who committed suicide after that and her other expenditures came to light. Denton had a person described as her “partner” on the university teat at $192,000, which was less than one-third of the $600,000 she spent on her home with what is really student money.
Salaries and other compensations of staggering size are by no means rare in higher education. Audrey Doberstein, head of Wilmington College in Delaware, pulled down $1,370,000 before she retired last year. There is a whole clutch of college presidents at the $800,000 and $900,000 level who we can reasonably expect will burst into the seven figures before long.