In journalism, the most important personal fact in a news story (after a correctly spelled name) is the person’s age.
Hence, President Barack Obama, 52.
But I’ve always thought compensation should be right up there as the next most important figure ― at least for people who get paid in part by public monies.
Therefore, Barack Obama, 52, $400,000, (plus $50,000 for expenses).
It’s always good to be reminded of what we pay our public servants.
Should that be any different in higher ed?
Compensation, especially at public institutions shouldn’t be some closely guarded secret.
So once again, we must applaud the University of California for releasing its pay data in a proud showing of its “commitment to transparency and public accountability.”
The numbers aren’t very surprising.
For 2013, UC’s system wide expenses ran about $23.9 billion, with salaries taking up half of that, or about $11.7 billion.
And guess who gets the most money?
The coaches, of course.
But it’s relative.
UC Berkeley paid its fired football coach, Jeff Tedford, $2.44 million in 2013, at the same time it paid new coach Sonny Dykes $2.37 million. That’s an expense of nearly $5 million in one position for 2013.
It’s still lower than what Alabama paid one coach, Nick Saban, last year at $5.4 million. (And Saban just got a raise last month; he’s up to $7 million).
UC makes up for football by being cheap in basketball. At perennial powerhouse Duke, Mike Krzyzewski makes $9.6 million.
At Berkeley, Mike Montgomery makes $1.74 million annually. A bargain rate.
Incidentally, the top paid coach in the UC system was UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford, at $2.6 million.
That’s a lot of paycheck O’s for X’s and O’s.
System-wide, the highest paid professor (designated as “Prof-AY”) was UCLA’s Richard Roll, an applied finance professor at the Anderson School: $599,535.
That’s more than President Obama, but barely to the level of a top football defensive coach.
One outspoken critic of income inequality is former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.
He teaches a popular course at Berkeley now and tips the scales at $242, 613.
Once again, not even in the same league as some of UC’s assistant coaches. But way more than, say, a lecturer in ethnic studies who makes well under $70,000 a year.
And that brings us to the university spin on all this.
As hard as it is to imagine all this inequality, UC says it’s all driven by the marketplace, and sees itself struggling to attract the top stars in coaching and teaching.
In fact, its press release says it’s below market in pay and hasn’t addressed disparities in pay uncovered in its own study in 2009. The last five years there have been layoffs and furloughs, and decreases in state funding. In 2013, UC said it gave out some merit increases but no general staff raises.
Oh, woe is the public university in a tough economic environment with $24 billion in expenses.
So how does it pay the bills?
Nearly 40 percent of its money comes from its teaching hospitals and clinical revenues.
An almost identical amount is made up of federal funds, grants, contracts and private gifts.
Just 23 percent of its funding comes from the general funds of the state that bears its name and from the tuition payments like the one I sent in for my son.
And that’s decreasing over time.
Can you imagine the skyrocketing cost of college if tuitions and fees had to pay for it all?
What kind of higher ed would we have then?
I don’t know the answer, but shouldn’t it be more than football, or sports?
Emil Guillermo writes on issues of race for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (www.aaldef.org/blog). Like him at www.facebook.com/emilguillermo.media and Twitter @emilamok.