Our opinion: High-earning provost and other administrators may be due for a temporary pay cut

The Chronicle of Higher Education, a journal dedicated to the reporting of all things college, recently came out with data profiling the highest paid administrators and chief executives on private university campuses. And based on the fiscal year 2006, the most recent data available, our very own Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc ranked third among all chief academic officers in private universities with a salary of more than $600,000.

Out of 900 schools, there are only two other provosts paid more than ours. OK, cool, that’s fine. But can anyone explain why?

We don’t mean to impugn the talents of Provost LeBlanc; perhaps he’s worth every penny. But what is he doing that the fifth-ranked, or tenth-ranked or fiftieth-ranked provost isn’t? In times like these, when requests for any expenditure above $2,500 is carefully inspected by a board of three university vice presidents (of which LeBlanc is one), perhaps a more thorough explanation is in order.

Like we stated earlier, the most recent data available is from the fiscal year of 2006, which ran from Oct. 2005 through Oct. 2006, back when the money flowed like so much beer at a raging kegger. Perhaps salaries have been readjusted. Perhaps Provost LeBlanc has volunteered a pay cut between then and now. No matter the case, administrators who are asking so much of students should be taking proactive measures to avoid headlines like this.

What’s the solution? While the pay freeze that university president Donna E. Shalala spoke about in a previous “Dialogue” is a good start, like so many other businesses struggling in the current economic climate, perhaps temporary pay cuts for top-earning officials should be in order. Students have been grinning and bearing the cuts across campus; the last thing we need to see is an administrator on a top 10 list. Unless it’s Letterman’s. Laughs are free.

February 25, 2009


Editorial Board

The Miami Hurricane

2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Our opinion: High-earning provost and other administrators may be due for a temporary pay cut”

  1. mauiwowie says:

    I guess the law school’s plans for new facilities and faculty will be put on hold while it drops further in cheesy corporate rankings.

  2. Shellie Brown says:

    Thank you for bringing this to everyone’s attention. My question is…if he is the ”chief budget officer”…and we are having budget problems (partly because of our own doing)…then what priority of his duties for $600,000 was the management of the budget? The changes in graduate education and the initiatives to “propel UM into the top ranks of higher education” are fantastic and needed. But, when the school becomes consumed with making ends meet, then what takes a back seat?

    In one of the recent emails from President Shalala to the us and UM community, no pay raises, salary freezes and a budget reduction will be necessary to survive. If his raise in 2006 was 3%, what could that $18,000 do to help our current situation? If there is a 7% budget reduction across the board, then we could save $42,000 (7%) of his 2006 salary.

    The proactive steps we are taking are great and as students we are behind helping the U to be better – lowest tuition and fee increase, freezing salaries, etc. But the important question to ask (for future prevention) is how did we get here? Who had the checkbook? What will UM do differently? Students are having to figure out what we are going to differently with our money, and we have to look at our current spending (is the $30 cover at the clubs really worth the spilled drinks and expensive cab ride). If my checkbook had gotten this dire, I know my mom would have made a few calls to me asking what was up? President Shalala is right – boldness and creativity are needed. Will Dr. Leblanc be bold and be willing to be the 12th highest paid chief academic officer?

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.