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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bonus, My Ass

A friend of mine just reported that at my former place of work (MFPOW), President Lee Todd of the University of Kentucky just received a bonus to the tune of over $145,000 due to his highest score ever on his annual evaluation. Todd, in his generosity, will be returning $50,000 back to the university to support various programs. (To Todd's credit, he does give back a portion of his bonus each year.) This leaves him with the measly bonus of $90,000. Which, to put it in perspective, is more than I (and many other professors, not to mention staff) make in two years.


This is the same University of Kentucky that is offering its employees - who generally make less than half of the president's BONUS - no raise, and is slicing 188 positions. This is a University in a state that is just as hard hit as the rest of the country and has sliced its education budget to the bone, because, hey, states like Tennessee and Kentucky can afford to snip at education, right?


I find it reprehensible that universities going through severe budget years still have the gumption to hand out bonuses like this - because, let's face it, this bonus is on top of his actual contract, payments from athletics, and all his private investments, and housing allowance, and car, and blah and blah and blah ad nauseam.


Now, I understand that this is how it works in the upper echelons, and UK is by no means the only university offering a bonus to its president. (In his defense, Todd has been a real powerhouse for UK, and does indeed deserve a competitive package.) But in a time when tuition is rising, employees are being shafted on costs of living and/or losing their jobs, dropping a cool $140k on a single head is. Un. Acceptable. When does the word go out that the fatcats should have to tighten their belts with everyone else?


Yes, I'm rage blogging. those states that can least afford to cut education funds and charge their mostly-rural students nearly 10% more in tuition somehow think that this is ok, because it keeps Todd happy and he won't be going anywhere. But what if universities simply put the kabash on all bonuses until the budget warranted their return? And UK's funding? About 15% now comes from the legislature. For the first time ever, more support is coming from kids who are borrowing money and scraped-from-the-bottom-of-the-barrel family money than the government. How, then, is UK (or any of the other supposedly "public" universities in the country) a "public" institution? Oh, well, 'public' in the sense that legislators still want their free basketball tickets and to be able to hold the school over a barrel at budget time, not so much 'public' as in 'publicly funded.'


Oh, I'm sure president Todd feels your pain if you're losing your job. Or if your pay is frozen. Or if you'll have to do triple the work because those three open positions in your department just got frozen (at less pay, given no raise and rising costs of living). But I bet rolling around in his bonus money will make him feel better.

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