It is a sad commentary on the state of the media when student newspapers become a critical source of investigative reporting on the finances of the university, but that said, thank you Daily Gamecock! It is about time someone put a spotlight on the administration-heavy structure of the university (I have colleagues from other institutions who are stunned by our administrative structure, especially the sheer number of associate deans) and the shocking pay of administrators. The story is here. The administration’s defense of these salaries is weak, at best…mostly because a lot of these pay packages aren’t really defensible given faculty and staff pay rates. Find me a VP of anything that is worth three times what I am to the university…yeah, show me how you can quantify that.
But one word of caution to the Daily Gamecock. Not all “bonuses” are created equal…or are actually bonuses. The research supplements you all reported on are not what you think they are. First, most faculty at the university are on nine-month contracts. Yep, we get paid only 9 months a year. When we get a grant or contract, we can pay ourselves salary for the summer (at the same rate as our monthly pay during the contract period). Further, with special approval, we can do contract work during the year and be paid up to 30% on top of our base pay. These are not bonuses, these are salaries that we earn through our work. The money does not come from the state or the university (via tuition), it comes from the organization providing the grant or contract. Further, you probably don’t want less of these, as the university charges overhead on those salaries. 45%, to be exact. So if I get summer salary worth $20,000, the university is making $9,000 from that salary. In short, you want more research “bonuses”, because they raise faculty salaries without costing the state (or students, in terms of tuition) anything, and they bring revenue to the university.
So please do keep reporting on the administrative structure and pay rates at the University. It is an important story that needs more attention. But do be careful how you characterize pay and bonuses – a bunch of the stuff you were decrying doesn’t cost students or taxpayers a cent – it is the outcome of hard work on the part of the faculty, and it adds to the University’s coffers.