A recent report released by the Institute for Policy Studies finds that student debt and low-wage faculty labor are rising faster at state universities with the highest-paid presidents. Usually those three hotly debated issues: student debt, increased use of part-time faculty, and inflated executive pay are discussed as separate issues, but researchers wondered if the three were related. What they found shows that all three are connected in ways worthy of a Charles Dickens novel.
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The study, titled The One Percent at State U: How Public University Presidents Profit from Rising Student Debt and Low-Wage Faculty Labor, looked at 25 public universities with the highest executive pay from fall 2005 to summer 2012.
Co-authors of the study, Marjorie Wood and Andrew Erwin, found that as students went deeper into debt, administrative spending outstripped scholarship spending by more than two to one at state schools with the highest-paid presidents. The New York Times published an article on the study, in which Marjorie Wood explains the findings.
“The high executive pay obviously isn’t the direct cause of higher student debt, or cuts in labor spending,” Wood says. “But if you think about it in terms of the allocation of resources, it does seem to be the tip of a very large iceberg, with universities that have top-heavy executive spending also having more adjuncts, more tuition increases, and more administrative spending.”
Other key findings included a dramatic increase in part-time adjunct faculty and a dramatic decline in permanent faculty at the state schools with the highest-paid presidents. The average executive pay at those schools also rose to nearly $1 million by 2012, increasing more than twice as fast as the national average at public research universities.
Infographic of Key Findings:
(Infographic: Institute for Policy Studies)
The report also includes a list of the top five most unequal public universities, in which Ohio State University was ranked as being the most unequal of all the schools surveyed. Ohio State paid its president $5.9 million from FY 2010 to FY 2012 while average student debt at the school rose by 49 percent from summer 2006 to summer 2012.
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