0000;”>Dr. John DeGioia, president of Georgetown University. (Flickr/Center for American Progress)
This article on pay raises for DC area college presidents, posted last week by the Washington Examiner, made me uneasy for two reasons. For one, presidents of DC area universities are seeing their pay bumped up a cool 42 percent. Georgetown president John DeGioia is now raking in $911,613 a year, and some measures have cited our very own Cornelius Kerwin–although somewhat misleadingly–as the nation’s fifth highest paid president, with a $1.4 million paycheck in 2007-2008. (That year Kerwin received an $800,000 “lump sum” compensation which had been deferred for almost a decade. The Washington Post has a better explanation than we can provide here.) But the bottom line is local university presidents are making a pretty penny for an economic climate such as this one. When aspiring students can’t afford to attend college because their parents are out of work, it’s a bit worrisome to see university presidents making almost seven figures.
Which brings me to the next reason the Examiner article made me worry: how come they don’t ask why? Why do these guys make so much? What do they do with the money? Sure, the article mentions deferred benefits, which end up accruing to hundreds of thousands of dollars, making a president’s salary look a lot bigger than it actually is. But it also claims that “universities attributed presidential compensation increases to housing-value calculations and contract negotiations,” explaining, for instance, that the value of Catholic University president David O’Connell’s on-campus home has been rising in a hot real-estate market.
But do housing-value calculations and contract negotiations merit a 42 percent pay raise? I’m not convinced. Someone needs to ask: “what do you need that much money for?”
The Examiner doesn’t ask why, but we plan to. This is one of the big questions AWOL hopes to explore during the coming semester. Stay tuned for more.