11.11.03

SEEKING THOSE MARKET TESTS: "Are college presidents paid too much or too little? With some salaries now approaching $1-million, what is the justification for the increases in presidential compensation?" That's a Chronicle of Higher Education moderated colloquy to open at noon, God's time, on Thursday, 13 November. (Hat tip: Invisible Adjunct, who also points to a New York Times report that only demonstrates how out of touch some academicians are.) Tie pay packets to faculty packets, indeed.

If memory serves, Babe Ruth defended his salary exceeding President Herbert Hoover's with the line, "I had a better year than he did." That's about as good a summary of the market test as any left-handed pitcher has come up with.

So let's look at the market tests. How much would you be willing to pay a leader who argues that his business ought to be able to determine independently how to spend other peoples' money, who hires writers that write badly, that packages its failures as character traits, that shifts resources to money-losing divisions, that seeks sneaky pay raises (more here), that engages in bait and switch marketing practices, and screens its raw material so carelessly that about a third of it has to be upgraded before it can go into production?

And don't argue that there's a huge risk premium in case you're out the door in three years. By that logic, adjunct faculty and recently hired assistant professors would command much higher salaries.

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