The Underpaid Community College President?

According to an article in Inside Higher Ed, a recent survey by Yaffe & Company indicates that the heads of community colleges get paid less than the heads of four-year schools. While the headline is of the “sky blue, report says” variety; certainly one would expect the heads of two year schools—which are generally almost $4,000 a year cheaper than four year public universities, and often less financially secure—to make less money. But the numbers are telling. According to the article:

Still, salaries for community college presidents pale in comparison to those of their counterparts at four-year institutions. A recent survey by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources found that the median salary for presidents of doctoral institutions is $380,293; the median for the presidents of master’s institutions is $242,050, and for those of baccalaureate institutions, $225,000.

The average salary for heads of community colleges was about $165,000. There were, however, often interesting perks. Almost 40 percent of community college presidents received an automobile as part of their compensation. Some 12.5 percent of community college heads received a country club membership in addition to their salaries.

A country club membership, really?

Nevertheless, some people still think community college presidents should be better paid. According to the article:

“It’s not fair,” [American Association of Community Colleges President George] Boggs said. “Community college presidents are operating very complex education enterprises that require of them a lot of expertise and a lot of hours. Their salary should be comparable to those of the heads of other nonprofit institutions — such as hospital administrators and presidents of universities – that require a certain amount of expertise and have a similar degree of responsibility.”

Not fair? Not fair for whom? It seems obvious that college presidents (of any institution) are paid based on the university budget, not based on an average comparison of duties.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer