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“Millionaire presidents on the rise at private colleges”

That was the headline in the Dec. 23 Washington Post.

How about the following as an alternate headline:

“Millionaire presidents at private tax-exempt colleges”

Why, in the name of common sense and any sort of equity, should the University of Chicago remain tax-exempt while it goes on paying its president, Robert Zimmer, $3.4 million a year?

  • or Northeastern University, whose president, Joseph Aoun, is paid $3.1 million a year?
  • or Marist College President Dennis Murray, who is paid $2.7 million a year?
  • or Columbia University, whose president, Lee Bollinger, is paid $2.3 million a year?
  • or Tufts University’s Lawrence Bacow, who is paid $2.2 million a year?

These salaries were reported in early December by the Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual analysis of what men and women who run this nation’s private universities get paid. Also reported: The number of private college presidents being paid more than $1 million a year grew by 17 percent, from 36 in 2010 to 42 in 2011.

By contrast, Harvard’s president, Drew Gilpin, was paid nearly $900,000, which Washington Post writer Jena McGregor described as “a bargain,” and added:

  • “In the grand scheme of a given college’s budget, $1 million may not amount to much. But those numbers tend to set people off, which is a testament to the symbolic power of executive pay.”
  • “$1.3 million was paid in 2011 to Cornelius Kerwin, president of American University.”
  • “$1.2 million was paid to Ron Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University.”
  • “$1.1 million was paid to George Washington University President Steven Knapp.”

Add McGregor: “Small and midsized private colleges have been hit by declining enrollments, budget shortfalls and difficult decisions about job cuts.”

There really should not be any difficult decisions about either job or salary cuts on campuses throughout this nation.

All tax-exempt universities and colleges should either limit all salaries to $100,000 or less – or lose their tax exemptions.

How is there any justification at all for these millionaire-salaried college presidents, when our nation’s armed forces and police forces are paid so much less for defending our nation and enforcing its laws?

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