OUR OPINION: Chancellor’s pay need not be raisedState leaders should reject a legislator’s suggestion that the chancellor’s pay be massively raised. As long as the current salary draws a good selection of qualified applicants — people who’d be willing and able to work at the offered wage — there is no need whatsoever to raise the pay.
By: Tom Dennis, Grand Forks Herald
At many universities, coaches of marquee teams get paid more than the university president.
After all, a coach’s highly visible job depends on his or her won/lost performance. And people who can satisfy that merciless metric to fans’ (and everyone else’s) satisfaction are few and far between.
So, they get paid more than presidents, whose managerial and executive talents are somewhat more common. And that’s true even though a president sits higher on the university’s chain of command and can fire the more highly paid coach.
This fact is a commonplace throughout higher ed. There are countless examples in other fields, too. For example, junior officers not long out of West Point get paid less than do the master sergeants whom the lieutenants supervise.
Given all that, why must the chancellor of the North Dakota higher education system be paid more than the UND and North Dakota State University presidents?
The answer is, the chancellor does not have to be paid more. The system works perfectly well as it is, even though the chancellor earns about $214,000 and the presidents earn many tens of thousands of dollars more.
So, state leaders should reject a legislator’s suggestion that the chancellor’s pay be massively raised. As long as the current salary draws a good selection of qualified applicants — people who’d be willing and able to work at the offered wage — there is no need whatsoever to raise the pay.
The applicant pool — not the comparison with UND and NDSU — should be the bottom-line guide.
Rep. RaeAnn Kelsch, R-Mandan, made the pay-hike suggestion at a higher education committee meeting in Bismarck, PlainsDaily.com reported.
Chancellor Bill Goetz is retiring, and committee members were talking about the salary that should be offered Goetz’s successor.
“Kelsch’s reasoning on the salary is that the chancellor should be seen as above the presidents, and that a higher salary level is essential for that understanding between the chancellor and the university heads,” the story reported.
The argument is flawed for two reasons. First, if an outstanding chancellor can be attracted by the current salary, then the proposed $100,000 boost would be something of a waste.
In economics, the term is “rent” — not “rent” as in apartment rent, but “rent” as in “the unwarranted excess paid to any producer.”
Second (and much less important), the chancellor doesn’t have full control over the presidents in the first place. For as we understand it, the board — not the chancellor — retains the ability to hire and fire the presidents.
That makes it a challenge for chancellors to exercise their authority, as North Dakota over the past 10 years has found out.
By the way, people who claim the presidents are overpaid should remember something: The job of UND president attracted only 38 applicants in 2007. Whatever else that signifies, it isn’t “excess,” especially considering the CEO-like expectations that now go along with the job.
— Tom Dennis for the Herald