If you believe the data provided by The State newspaper’s online salary database, the leaders of the Palmetto State’s top three research universities receive taxpayer-funded salaries that are very much in line with what “higher educrats” at other public colleges and universities are paid.
University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides makes $265,000, Medical University of S.C. President Ray Greenberg makes $232,064 and Clemson University President James Barker makes $227,656.
Of course if you believe The State newspaper, South Carolina’s state budget this year is $5.7 billion (it was actually $20.7 billion, when ratified). And if you believe The State newspaper, the budgets at our various institutions of higher learning are being “cut by record levels” (actually, budgets at each of these schools are going up, as you’ll see in a moment).
Meanwhile, the issue of administrative pay is one that is receiving a significant amount of scrutiny on college campuses not only here in South Carolina, but across the country as well. It exploded on South Carolinians radar earlier this year, though, when a report published first on FITS exposed the massive bureaucratic expansion taking place at Clemson – during a recessionary economy, no less. That report prompted a rebuke from the Clemson faculty, who were seeing colleagues lose their jobs while their own salaries remained stagnant.
So … what do these “higher educrats” actually make?
Glad you asked.
According to Clemson, President Barker receives $172,344 in compensation from the University foundation on top of his taxpayer-funded salary of $227,656, for a total annual salary of $400,000. Clemson spokeswoman Cathy Sams tells FITS that Barker receives this supplement “to perform duties consistent with the goals of the Foundation.”
According to USC, President Pastides receives “foundation supplements” in the amount of $270,000 on top of his taxpayer-funded salary of $265,000 – for a total annual salary of $535,000.
Medical University President Ray Greenberg rakes in the most cash of these three “leaders” by far, though, with an estimated $450,000 annual salary from the MUSC hospital supplementing his yearly taxpayer-funded income of $232,064.
That’s nearly $700,000 a year, people.
Barker, Pastides and Greenberg have all presided over massive budget expansions – and massive mission creep – in their roles as research university presidents. No longer content with educating students (i.e. the job we pay them so much money to do), all three have sought to assume control over a significant chunk of the state’s economic development efforts.
It’s all part of a broader “pillars and pyramids” strategy endorsed by S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell, Senate Finance Chairman Glenn McConnell, Senate President Glenn McConnell and House Ways & Means Chairman Danny Cooper – a plan to dramatically increase government’s role in the economy by creating a de facto “Commerce Department” that’s controlled exclusively by the legislature.
Obviously, this strategy has been an unmitigated disaster – as evidenced by the case of Innovista, an empty $140 million “research campus” that has failed miserably to produce the jobs and private investment state leaders and University officials promised.
It has also drained money directly from the private sector, like the $8 million that was stripped from an entrepreneurial tax credit fund last year by the S.C. Research Authority, whose board is controlled by the three research universities.
Fortunately, FITS was able to expose this scam back in March, thus preventing more money from being poured down the rabbit hole.
With respect to higher ed, though, how much money are we talking about? How deep does the rabbit hole go?
According to the latest data available from the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), South Carolina currently spends 17.8% of its budget on a bloated, wasteful, duplicative and inefficient system of higher education.
The average state spends only 10.1% of its budget on higher ed.
Here are the total budgets for each school over the last six fiscal years as appropriated by the S.C. General Assembly …
FY 2004-05 – $471.6 million
FY 2005-06 – $501.5 million
FY 2006-07 – $532.8 million
FY 2007-08 – $562.7 million
FY 2008-09 – $583.3 million
FY 2009-10 – $587.3 million
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA
FY 2004-05 – $614.1 million
FY 2005-06 – $686.6 million
FY 2006-07 – $788.6 million
FY 2007-08 – $859.8 million
FY 2008-09 – $889.6 million
FY 2009-10 – $903.3 million
MEDICAL UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA
FY 2004-05 – $461.5 million
FY 2005-06 – $525.1 million
FY 2006-07 – $531.8 million
FY 2007-08 – $542.6 million
FY 2008-09 – $582.4 million
FY 2009-10 – $592 million
As you can see, each school’s total budget has increased every single year. What’s more, these increases do not include tuition increases for the current school year, which pushed USC’s total budget over a billion dollars.
Speaking of those increases, tuition at Clemson has tripled over the last decade, from under $4,000 to nearly $12,000, while tuition at USC has more than doubled over the same time period. Additionally, Seniors at Clemson and USC are paying 23% and 17% more per year, respectively, than when they first arrived on campus.
USC also lost ground on the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings, while Clemson’s position remained unchanged.