College leader 'Arms race' means growing paychecks for top brass and balancing act for budgeters

CINCINNATI – Greater Cincinnati's public universities face a conundrum as they seek to attract and retain the best leadership against a backdrop of tight budgets.

For University of Cincinnati, Miami and Northern Kentucky universities the strategy has been to shell out ever-increasing salary and bonus packages in order to land the right presidents, provosts and deans.

The result, according to some higher education experts, has been a near Cold War among colleges.

The national statistics bear that out. Salaries of administrators – executives who oversee faculty and staff –rose an average of 4.1 percent a year 2003-2012, according to Commonfund Institute, which tracks college costs. Salaries far outpaced inflation, which was 2.45 percent a year on average during that same period.

"You're starting to see an explosion of salaries at the administrative level that I think is difficult for public universities to justify," Dr. Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity in Washington and economics professor at Ohio University, said.




























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