December 18th, 2014
In its annual survey of public university presidents’ pay, the Chronicle of Higher Education quoted Ann Weaver Hart, who took a 23 percent pay cut when she left Temple University in Philadelphia to become president of the University of Arizona at an annual salary of $560,500. “Nobody is starving at my house,” Hart said, and she was willing to work for less so she could be closer to her mother in Utah. And in Arizona, salaries in the upper six figures or higher meet public resistance: “In the populist world of the West,” Hart said, “that wouldn’t fly.”
The University of Oregon Board of Trustees can find several pieces of useful information packed into Hart’s words as it works toward setting a salary for the UO’s next president. One, half a million dollars is a lot of money, even though some presidents make more. Two, money isn’t everything; a president may accept a job for a variety of intangible reasons. And three, public perceptions matter.