Monday, April 4, 2011

Hard to cry poor mouth when pulling down $800,000

Graham Spanier, President of Penn State University
PSU's Graham Spanier

When Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett announced that his proposed budget would cut higher education funding by as much as 52 percent, Penn State President Graham Spanier immediately went on the offense, calling a news conference to denounce the decision.

Spanier received applause from those who value the role played by public colleges and universities and from environmentalists and Democrats who note that the Republican governor chose to slash aid to education while insisting that no severance tax be  levied on the natural gas industry (which pays the tax in other drilling states).  

The applause might die down a bit in light of today's revelation in the Philadelphia Inquirer that Spanier took home a cool $800,592 last year in salary ($620,004), deferred compensation ($157,828) and retirement ($22,760).  

The newspaper cited a report released yesterday by the Chronicle of Higher Education. It said that Spanier's total compensation trailed only the presidents of Ohio State University, the University of Washington, the University of Texas system, and the University of Central Florida.

The survey also reported that:
  • Temple University president Ann Weaver Hart had a total cost of employment of $707,947 for the period, including base pay of $535,903 and a $70,000 bonus, the report said.
  • Richard L. McCormick, president of the Rutgers University system, had a total cost of employment of $593,800, including base pay of $550,000, according to the report.
  • Patrick T. Harker, president of the University of Delaware, had a total cost of employment of $726,307. He ranked seventh among public-college presidents in total compensation, with a salary of $598,682 and a $100,000 bonus, the Chronicle said.

A Penn State spokesperson  noted that Spanier's salary had been frozen last year, along with the pay of other university employees, "and he will share in the freeze announced for this summer as well." He also pointed out that Spanier and his wife, Mahon said, have donated more than a million dollars to Penn State.
Given the size of Penn State's operations--multiple campuses, wide-ranging activities and an ever growing student population--Spanier's compensation may be defensible.

But many struggling taxpayers may see it differently. And their opinion will be weighed by state legislators who are taking up their reivew of the governor's spending plan.


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