University President Shares Salary With School’s Lowest Paid Workers

It’s not everyday that a college president decides to take a $90,000 pay cut for the benefit of low-wage workers. Last week however, Raymond Burse, interim president of Kentucky State University, did just that. His decision sets a new precedent amongst presidents and CEOs to raise the bar on livable wages for employees.

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It's Burse's mission that all university employees make at least $10.25 an hour, and rather than asking the university to fund that goal, Burse decided to use 25 percent of his own paycheck. Some of the 24 employees who’ll benefit from his decision make as little as $7.25 per hour and work in such roles as custodial staff, groundskeepers, and as low-end clerical workers.

Burse has been the interim president at the university since June and explained his decision in an interview last week with Lillian Cunningham of the Washington Post.

“I thought that if I’m going to ask them to be really committed and give this institution their all, I should be doing something in return,” says Burse.

He has also promised to take further salary cuts for any new minimum-wage employees hired under his governance, in order to bring their pay up to the new $10.25 standard. Burse says he didn’t make this decision to be an example to others, but to “do right by the employees” at the school.

His own employment history includes a previous stint as president of KSU from 1982 to 1989 and serving as vice president and general counsel at GE. Burse will continue as interim president for at least a year or longer if needed.

If you want to find out if you’re getting paid what you should, click here to generate a personal salary report based on your exact position.

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