Marginal raise for Bounds: A year’s worth of earnings for a student

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Phil Brown
CONTRIBUTOR

What would you do with a $30,000 raise? As the epitome of a broke college student, I’d need most of it to pay off student loans, and the rest to pay for the ones I’ll have to take in the future. What if you were already making nearly half a million dollars a year administrating the university that I need those loans to pay for?

Last week, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents’ executive committee recommended that university president Hank Bounds receive a 6.3 percent raise on his salary, bringing his compensation from $480,000 to $510,400 yearly. Bounds has only been at the university for a little over a year, having started his duties April 2015, but he seems to have already made friends with his board, who will most likely approve the raise they proposed for him by press time. The board also recommended that University of Nebraska Medical Center Chancellor Jeffrey Gold also receive a raise, although it’s hard to see why: the UNMC chancellor already makes $814,234 per year.

Do we need a half-a-million dollar administrator? Do we, as Regent Jim Pillen told the Omaha World-Herald, need to “make sure he stays in Nebraska,” at this cost?

“I actually thought we should give him more of a raise,” Pillen said.

Photo Courtesy of omaha.com
Photo Courtesy of omaha.com

Hank Bounds already makes more than I will probably ever make, and his 6.3 percent raise, while comparatively small at $30,400, would make a decent living for any of the college students he administrates.

Back in May, when Bounds was making only $480,000, he approved a 2.5 percent tuition hike for university students, and then skipped out later in the month for a vacation on billionaire donor Walter Scott, Jr.’s yacht in Alaska. While Bounds and the regents are surely having a wonderful time cavorting around the country with impossibly wealthy telecom barons and giving each other raises, they don’t seem to have a whole lot of regard for the students that their system is actually for.

The university system is not for Bounds, any of the chancellors or any of the regents. They may be tasked with keeping things running, or helping faculty members do their job, but the university doesn’t exist in order to enrich and edify these administrators. The university exists to serve the community, particularly the students and academics under its banner.

Pillen may want to give Bounds even more of our money, but how will raising Bounds’ salary lead to better educational outcomes for us and our professors? Indeed, with one tuition hike already under his belt in his first year, is there really any doubt on how Bounds plans on paying for his raise?

Administrative bloat can only spell worse outcomes for students and faculty when paired with the failure of national public funding to keep up with rising enrollment. As universities privatize, the costs are spread out to the students, the profits are taken by administrators and the faculty is left out to dry.

It is, unfortunately, all too familiar a trend, and a path that our university system currently seems to be eagerly following. Those who make the decisions: the president, the chancellors and the regents, won’t feel any ill effects from lining their own pocketbooks.

For everyone else: any student worried about mounting student debt, the adjunct professor hoping for a penance of a raise or a grad student in desperate need of a good financial aid package, there is only disappointment.

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