January 29, 2012

Sunday Rant: CU Tuition!

Keep in mind, this isn’t personal. I never paid a dime of tuition (scholarships and stipends FTW!) to CU and neither did Sarah.

Still, this DC article distressed me. For those who don’t want to read the whole thing:
CU has consistently raised tuition by ~10% a year for at least a decade (this year, the proposal is a 15.7% increase!) At the same time, they have given massive raises to (and hired more) administrators. Ostensibly high administrator pay is necessary to “keep pace” with “peer institutions” (other state flagship universities).

Here’s my take: nobody goes to college because the chancellor is awesome. Most college students couldn’t name the chancellor, vice chancellor, or even president of CU (nor the board of regents, who make the actual decisions, of course). When you think of awesome CU employees, you think of people like Carl Wieman, or Tom Cech. People who do awesome research, who do great teaching. Not figureheads. Not paper-pushers or bean counters. Do you need paper pushers and bean counters? Of course! Do you need to pay them $389,000 a year? Heck no!

So my proposal – simply make it part of the CU bylaws that no administrator can make more money than the average full-time, active (ie, doing research and teaching) professor. We have freaking NOBEL LAUREATES who make considerably less than some administrators – that’s pathetic. No more than 1 administrator per 10 active faculty members, too! When I want to brag to someone about CU, I talk about Carl Wieman, not Bruce Benson or Phil DiStefano. They’re glorified paper-pushers at best, but really more like figurehead leeches who seem to continually multiply.

There – a nice simple salary cap. Might be worth applying it to the athletic department as well while we’re at it – I love sports, but we don’t need coaches who make millions of dollars a year while top-notch teachers and researchers quit to join the private sector because they get paid peanuts.

Here’s the other thing – if you actually paid the people who make CU great, cut administrative spending to the bone, and cut tuition, CU would be on the front page of every newspaper in the country. Parents would fight tooth and nail to get their kids a spot here. “Peer” institutions would have no choice but to follow along – or have their best potential students cherrypicked by CU.