Gregory Fenves, the incoming president of the University of Texas at Austin, has reportedly turned down an offer of $1 million and a 12% bonus in favor of a more modest salary of $750,000 with a 10% bonus. He was concerned that such a high compensation package would upset students and faculty after the school’s budget concerns of recent years, and his decision has been met with widespread approval.
Since a tuition cap was removed in 2003, tuition has been slowly rising at the University of Texas’ various campuses. UT Austin requested a tuition increase in 2014, which was rejected by Regents and frowned upon by Rick Perry, the governor at the time, reports NBC-DFW.
Nine public university presidents made more than $1 million in 2013: those at Ohio State University, Texas A&M University at College Station, the North Dakota University System, the University of Georgia, the University of Houston’s main campus, the University of Iowa, Indiana University, the University of South Alabama, and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. With the increasing cost of college education and the perceived decline in the efficacy of these colleges to prepare students for the job market, seven-figure salaries are controversial.
Fenves, who will begin in June, had no comment beyond releasing the school’s proposal and his reply emails, writes Alexandra Svokos of the Huffington Post.
Fenves wrote in an email to the University of Texas System’s executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, Pedro Reyes:
$1M is too high for a public university. It will attract widespread negative attention from students and faculty given the difficult budgetary constraints of the past five years.
With many issues and concerns about administrative costs, affordability and tuition, such a salary will affect the ability of the president to work with the Texas Legislature on matters important to the university.
He also explained that he didn’t want such a high salary to influence his decisions.
Hilary Hart, former faculty council executive committee chair at UT Austin, said:
This is a way of really putting his money where his mouth is — or really, putting his lower salary where his mouth is. The faculty are really delighted.
The bonus would be dependent on a performance review, according to KXAN.
Fenves will be replacing Bill Powers on June 3rd, who is resigning after ten years in the position and after controversy over his influence on admissions decisions. His career as UT Austin president has been largely celebrated, but he has often clashed with Regents. According to Ralph K.M. Haurwitz of the Austin American-Statesman, confidential information about the search for Powers’ replacement was leaked by employees and/or Regents, who will be summarily disciplined.