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Study: Highest-Paid University Presidents Benefit From Soaring Student Debt and Low-Wage Adjuncts

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Natasha Hakimi Zapata
Assistant Editor and Poetry Editor
Natasha Hakimi Zapata is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Latin American Literature at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. She also holds a Creative Writing M.F.A. from Boston University and both a…
Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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It seems there’s no coincidence that the university administrators with the fattest paychecks head schools in which students and adjuncts have the most to lose. A new study appropriately titled “The One Percent at State U: How University Presidents Profit from Rising Student Debt and Low-Wage Faculty Labor” found that at 25 of the most expensive public schools, funds were being allocated in a way that hurt higher education’s 99 percent as those on top lined their pockets. To the authors of the Institute for Policy Studies report, the scenario bears similarities to how things played out on Main Street and Wall Street these past few years, hence their use of the now familiar percentage terms.

And the worst culprits of this imbalanced approach to education? Ohio State, the University of Minnesota, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Washington and the University of Michigan.

The New York Times:

The co-authors, Andrew Erwin and Marjorie Wood, found that administrative expenditures at the highest-paying universities outpaced spending on scholarships by more than two to one. And while adjunct faculty members became more numerous at the 25 universities, the share of permanent faculty declined drastically.

“The high executive pay obviously isn’t the direct cause of higher student debt, or cuts in labor spending,” Ms. Wood said. “But if you think about it in terms of the allocation of resources, it does seem to be the tip of a very large iceberg, with universities that have top-heavy executive spending also having more adjuncts, more tuition increases and more administrative spending.”

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the report found, the leaders of the highest-paying universities fared well, largely at the expense of students and faculty.

“Like executives in the corporate and banking sectors, public university presidents weathered the immediate aftermath of the fall 2008 financial crisis with minimal or no reductions in total compensation,” the report said.

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—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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