Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cut Student Debt by Firing the President




By Professor Doom

     I’ve ranted more than a few times about the wildly overpaid administration in higher education. I’ve advanced the notion that if administration weren’t paid such stupid-huge sums, we probably could afford to pay faculty a living wage, and wouldn’t need to put students in a lifetime of debt for college coursework that is, for the most part, worthless.

     But why should such a basic theory be just a rant on my part? No need, since a recent study shows that, indeed, there may be a link between administrative pay and student debt. No. Freakin’. Kidding.

     Let’s take a look at some key results of the study, which looked at the top 25 public universities with the highest executive pay:

Average executive pay at the top 25 rose to nearly $1 million by 2012 — increasing more than twice as fast as the national average at public research universities.

Hey, I’m all for capitalism, but this is “winner take all” capitalism. The guy at the top gets a fortune, and the guys that do the work get very little.

But hey, at least Bill Gates and super-capitalists like him did something amazing. The average university president just has a semi-bogus at best administrative degree, never did any research or teaching, and, from what I can tell from speaking with them and seeing their writing, doesn’t really know what’s going on.

And these guys have an average pay of a million bucks a year…at public, non-profit, universities. These guys have *nothing* to do with education, giving them a million dollars a year for their work in education is like giving the guy who shines Bill Gates’ shoes a million bucks a year for his work in computers.

Even more insulting than the winner-take-all capitalism is…there’s no capitalism here. These are public institutions, serving the public good. I’m paid very little, I’m told, because I’m performing public service. Fair enough, but why do the bosses get so much? They’re performing public service, too, right? Well, wrong, as their primary service seems to be screwing over young people as violently as possible.

There’s something very wrong here. The money being poured into higher education is just going to the guys at the top, there’s no trickle down here, if anything the money has just incited the greed of these plunderers.

Let’s look at more highlights from the study:


At state schools with the highest-paid presidents, permanent faculty declined dramatically as a percentage of all faculty. By fall 2009, part-time and contingent faculty at the top 25 outnumbered permanent faculty for the first time.

You’d think the rapidly rising tuition would be enough to pay for the administrative caste, but they’re not content with screwing over the students, they screw the faculty too. Faculty are already a minority on campus, being outnumbered by non-education workers (i.e., administrators and administrative support). Permanent faculty are now a minority in the minority, being outnumbered now by minimally paid adjunct workers making $10,000 or less a year.

All that taxpayer money pouring into education, and less goes to educators now than before the student loan scheme started, while students get saddled with massive debt for worthless degrees. Talk about unintended consequences. Education was clearly better before all this money was dumped on it to “improve education.” Most college coursework is at the high school level or lower, after all.

At state schools with the highest-paid presidents, part-time adjunct faculty increased 22 percent faster than the national average at all universities.

Read this carefully: the more you pay the Poo-Bah, the less goes to education. Get rid of the useless Poo-Bah, and there would be more money to hire educators.

The student debt crisis is worse at state schools with the highest-paid presidents. The sharpest rise in student debt at the top 25 occurred when executive compensation soared the highest.


Read this real careful: the more money that goes to the Poo-Bah, the worse off the students are. Pay the president more, means you must raise tuition more, and students get hurt more.

Get rid of the useless Poo-Bah already. I’ve been in higher education for over twenty years, and not once have I seen a Poo-Bah *do* anything that the students could remotely care about, much less do anything worth a million dollars or more a year in salary.

It’s not just salary, by the way. Poo-Bahs get ridiculous perks, like jet planes, a free house, gigantic travel budgets, and other absurd considerations.


As students went deeper in debt, administrative spending outstripped scholarship spending by more than 2 to 1 at state schools with the highest-paid presidents.

One more time: the more money that goes to the Poo-Bah, the more money that goes into administration, and the less that goes into scholarship (i.e., research). All institutions swear that their mission is to promote education and research, but it’s clear that many institutions just think their mission is to increase administrative pay as rapidly as possible.

So, in FIVE different ways, the study says that the way to help students avoid crushing student loan debt for worthless degrees is to get rid of the ridiculously overpaid Poo-Bahs.

It’s shameful that when Kim Kardashian wears a prostitute outfit while pushing her baby carriage, it’s all over the news (I’m embarrassed to include the link, but I want to emphasize I’m not joking)…while real information that could help tens of millions of young people is unlikely to make it any further than my blog.

Not that anyone in power would do anything about it anyway.