State university presidents, including University of Washington's Mark Emmert (shown above at a happier occasion), warned legislators yesterday that proposed budget cuts would devastate their schools. UW alone would have to lay off up to 800 faculty and staff, according to Emmert. Here's one other thing the UW should do: cut Emmert's salary.
Emmert, one of the best paid college presidents in the country, makes $900,000 a year. Does that make any sense when our mayor makes $150,000, our governor makes $163,000 and the president of the country makes $400,000? In the past few weeks, there's been justifiable outrage at the obscene bonuses given to failing corporate execs. (Fact is, their salaries and perks would be obscene no matter what their performance.) But there's also something wacky about salaries in the public sector, which don't seem to follow any logical order. Why is Ron Sims taking a pay cut to go from a county job to a top federal job? Why does Seattle Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, with a $264,000 salary, earn one-and-a-half times what the governor does?
Emmert, by the way, was thought to be worth his salary in part because he was expected to woo more university funding from legislators. The economy has thrown that rationale out the window. The UW chief has volunteered to forgo a salary raise, but that's not saying much in this climate. At a legislative committee meeting yesterday, Emmert was asked about possible salary cuts, according to the Associated Press. He didn't give a direct answer.