Cornell University has a $4.4 billion endowment. It also says it’s under considerable financial stress. In October it began to shut down its education department. In November it had to put up $350,000 worth of suicide-prevention fences. In December it began to consolidate programs.

All of this budgeting information led the school’s Student Assembly to wonder about administrative salaries. How much were Cornell executives getting paid anyway? The SA passed a resolution instructing the university to release that information.

Well Cornell will not be telling its students how much the university pays its top administrators, because it just doesn’t have to do so. According to an article by Laura Shepard in the Cornell Daily Sun:

President David Skorton rejected the Student Assembly’s Resolution 12, which called for the University to release information on the executive compensation of its top administrators.

In her explanation of the decision, Vice President of Human Resources Mary Opperman cited Cornell’s status as a private institution. She also said the resolution went beyond the scope of the S.A.

Well okay, but both of those things merely address why the university isn’t required to reveal executive compensation, not why such a revelation would be unsuitable. Why shouldn’t the Cornell community know?

Opperman also said that “pay and benefits for executive positions on the Ithaca campus” make up about three quarters of one percent of the school’s operating budget.

But we don’t know that. Couldn’t Opperman just be making that up? It’s not like anyone can check. [Image via]

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