A Facebook friend recently posted a link to a blog post. I'm not going to name the blog or mention the headline, for reasons that will become clear, but the gist of it was that Ohio State University's newly appointed president, who happens to be black, will receive half the salary of OSU's last president. It starts by talking about Lee Daniels' The Butler, which features a recurring subplot about the title character trying to obtain wages and advancement opportunities for the black staff members equal to those available to white staffers. The authors continue:
"Many who watched these scenes were overjoyed when the pay was finally balanced for all White House employees. Some might have consoled themselves by imagining that things like this no longer happen in today’s world. If this is what you thought, think again…"
Ohio State University has just hired their first African American president, their 15th chief overall. Dr. Michael V. Drake, 63, was described by the panelists who appointed him as “the right person for the job.”
So why is Ohio State only paying him HALF of what his white predecessors made?
But Ohio State University’s former president E. Gordon Gee, who retired in July, made $2 million annually. The contract for Michael Drake is $800,000 as base pay and $200,000 deferred annual compensation.
I would suggest that it's disingenuous at best to compare what Gee made the year he retired to what Drake will make in his first year on the job. Even in these tough financial times, people do get raises, and Gee was said to be very good at his job. Surely, a fairer basis of comparison would be to look at what Gee made in his first year. Except, whoops:
The trustees' 2007 decision to lure E. Gordon Gee from Vanderbilt University with a pay package totaling $1.3-million was a game-changer for presidential compensation.
"Birthplace of Million-Dollar Public-College Presidents Still Pays Well." The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 3, 2014
Still, that's $300,000 more than Drake will make, right?
Michael V. Drake, chancellor of the University of California at Irvine, will take over as Ohio State’s new president on June 30 with a pay package worth as much as $1.2-million in base compensation, deferred pay, available bonuses, and other benefits.
So, a difference of $100,000, or about 8%. What could possibly explain that? Gee's 26 years experience as a college president to Drake's nine? That Gee came from Vanderbilt University (#17 on the US News best colleges list) and Drake from University of California, Irvine (#49)? No, the difference in skin color is obviously the only explanation.
It's also worth noting the use of the plural in the blog post: "his white predecessors." But as you might infer from the first quote from the CHE article, no OSU president -- no public university president, period -- had ever been paid a million dollars before Gee was hired. So who are these other predecessors? Well, maybe it was a just a typo. Except in a later paragraph, the authors use the same phrasing: "we are left wondering why he would be paid half of what his predecessors made." Whereas I'm left wondering why the authors of the blog post would resort to half-truths and lies to invent a racial scandal where one clearly doesn't exist.
Oh wait, I know, to draw traffic to their website and collect more likes on their Facebook page. But fuck them. If you want to read the original, you can find it pretty easily via Google with what I quoted here, but please don't. This isn't the sort of thing we want to encourage.