Hefty salaries for academic executives unnecessary

Judy Genshaft is overpaid. So is football coach Jim Leavitt, as well as their counterparts at most other universities.

Last year, the St. Petersburg Times reported Genshaft’s salary as $342,720 plus bonuses. Leavitt makes nearly three times as much. These salaries are in line with other major universities throughout the country, and that is precisely the problem.

USF’s mission statement claims the University is dedicated to teaching and envisions itself as serving the nation through “excellent undergraduate and graduate instruction in a student-centered environment.” How do Genshaft or Leavitt contribute to this more than professors or researchers? They do not. It is therefore inexcusable for them to be better compensated than the people who are actually doing the teaching and the research.

According to the Florida Board of Governors’ Web site, the average faculty salary at USF was $65,866 in spring of 2005. In a capitalist society, pay is an indicator of a person’s value. Genshaft’s pay tells the world she is more than five times as valuable as the average professor, and Leavitt 15 times as much.

Genshaft performs valuable duties. She is responsible for ‘big picture’ decisions and helps to raise funds to support the University. These are important duties, but not more important than the actual teaching of students.

Many – including the people who approve her salary – believe her status of ‘being in charge’ means she deserves more pay. These people are mistaken. She performs a function, just as any other person at the university. The fact that her job entails the raising of money should not entitle her to such a large portion of that money.

Only a portion of Genshaft’s pay comes from the state. More than $100,000 of her pay is raised by the USF Foundation, according to the Times. Most of the money Leavitt receives comes from athletic boosters. Many people defend the salaries of athletic coaches by saying much of the money for the athletic department comes from these boosters and does not take away from the academic budget.

This is only partially true. The money donated to the athletic program is money that is received by the University, but is not being directed toward academics. If the priorities of the University were truly education, then the salaries would be similar to those who directly educate the students.

Some may say Genshaft’s salary is a function of market forces – she gets paid so well because there are limited a number of people qualified to hold the position. The logic goes that if a university does not offer a large pay package to its highest positions, it will not attract the best available talent. If administrators do not get paid more than regular faculty members, there would be no incentive to do anything other than teach. This is flawed logic.

If the pay of the University’s president or its athletic coaches were similar to faculty members, it would attract people to the job who are doing it for the love of the job – not the paycheck. Genshaft’s position is similar to that of a medium-to-large sized company’s chief executive officer. There are thousands of companies in the United States, each of which have CEOs. The pool of qualified people is not as small as one would think.

Neither Genshaft nor Leavitt has easy jobs. On the other hand, neither do the professors and researchers who make this an institution of higher learning. If the mission of the university is truly education, its pay structure needs to reflect it.

Josh Corban is a senior majoring in anthropology.