I am writing in response to the article in the June 21-22 Mercury about the pay of KSU President Kirk Schulz. I hope I am not the only one who is outraged that the president of a public university received a $60,000 raise.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income for American families is just over $50,000 per year, which is significantly less than the raise Mr. Schulz just received. With the raise, Schulz’s salary now stands at $460,000 per year, and KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little now makes $492,650 per year. The salary of the President of the United States is $400,000 per year. We now have public university officials making more than the president of our country.
I have always thought of education as a public service profession. Those who work in education (should) do so because they have a passion for education and for the guiding of future generations, not because they can bank a hefty salary. I don’t feel university administrators or any educator should be destitute or go hungry. In fact, education has always been held up as one of the noblest of professions. But what is so noble about making approximately nine times the median income of American families? In the opinion of this American, nothing.
At a time when budget cuts are being made across the board and when the cost for a student to go to college increases every year, why are we giving raises of $60,000 to our public university administrators? Why should money go to the pockets of a few well-off men and women when the money could instead go toward the education of our college students? Instead of accepting such an excessive raise, Schulz should have that money set aside for a scholarship (or several scholarships) for students wishing to attend the university he presides over. Imagine how much difference $60,000 a year could make in the life of an area college student. For that matter, imagine how much $10,000 a year could make in the lives of six area college students.
The article cites Curt Frazier, chairman of the KSU Foundation board of directors, as calling the $60,000 raise a “minor investment.” In what way is $60,000 a minor investment? If I were to make a minor investment in anything related to college education, it would be an investment in the ability of potential students to pay for an education, not “to ensure the proper direction of the university continues.” The best way to make sure that the university is led properly would be to terminate those officials whose leadership is not up to par, not by giving outrageous increases to already wealthy individuals whose positions exist to serve the student body.
This injustice makes me sick. To see that we are increasing the salary of public officials by more than the median income of American families is both an insult and a disappointment to all those who still believe that America is the greatest country on Earth.
Public administrators in this country like presidents of public universities, once referred to themselves as “public servants.” These individuals took positions and modest salaries knowing that the wealth amassed in their position would come not from monetary gain but from the satisfaction of knowing that they have made a difference in their lifetimes.
In short, public servants used to work for the benefit of that warm, fuzzy feeling we all get when we do good things. I would invite all your readers, as well as public officials, to ponder this question: Is doing good work for an honest salary not enough?
Grant Cragg lives at 15235 Lakeview Circle in Wamego.