As the presidential search narrows down to the final four, the salary of University of Oregon’s next president has yet to be decided. In a December 2014 meeting, Connie Ballmer, chair of the presidential search committee and trustee, suggested increasing the presidential salary. Today, she stands by that suggestion.
“We determined a range, so we don’t have a number right now that we’ve identified because it depends on the candidate that comes to us,” Ballmer said.
The range, according to Ballmer, is around $600,000, but the exact salary will depend upon where the candidate is coming from and what his or her salary was at a previous position. In comparison, Interim President Scott Coltrane earns $400,004.
In determining this range, Ballmer said that the presidential factors committee worked with a consulting firm to evaluate the UO’s peer institutions and their presidential salaries to determine the market rate for a public university president.
On the other hand, student activists such as Dana Rognlie, a GTF in the philosophy department, feel that administrators like the president are overpaid. According to Rognlie, this is partly due to the president’s role as a chief fundraiser for the university.
“Because the president is supposed to go get donors, they have to operate in circles of very wealthy people,” Rognlie said. “There’s the material part of this class issue, so now you have to make sure you have someone that can operate in those circles.”
Ballmer said that the increase in salary is to ensure that the next president is compensated fairly, but that presidents of public universities are not doing the job for the salary.
“The people that take the position of being the president of a public university are not in it for the money,” Ballmer said. “They want to be compensated fairly so they know that their value is respected, but these people are doing it because of their love and passion for public education.”
Undergraduate Brennan Heller is a member of the presidential search advisory board, and hopes to see a president who is invested in the UO community.
“I hope that those that are teaching or those that are involved in the UO really do share this common spirit of sharing and contributing to something larger than themselves,” Heller said. “I have the utmost confidence that we have the faculty like that and during this search, we’re going to have a president that is just as involved in this community spirit.”
This week the board of trustees will begin conversations about the remaining four candidates in the search. Ballmer said the most difficult thing about the search process is the range of expectations for the next president.
“We want to bring a strong leader forward,” Ballmer said. “We know we can’t make everybody happy because there are so many different expectations and that’s really difficult.”
However, the most exciting part of the process for Ballmer was the aspect of community building.
“Everybody had to come out together and talk together about it,” Ballmer said, “and I think we had some great conversations in the process.”
Follow Francesca Fontana on Twitter @francescamarief