Our opinion: High-earning provost and other administrators may be due for a temporary pay cut

The Chronicle of Higher Education, a journal dedicated to the reporting of all things college, recently came out with data profiling the highest paid administrators and chief executives on private university campuses. And based on the fiscal year 2006, the most recent data available, our very own Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc ranked third among all chief academic officers in private universities with a salary of more than $600,000.

Out of 900 schools, there are only two other provosts paid more than ours. OK, cool, that’s fine. But can anyone explain why?

We don’t mean to impugn the talents of Provost LeBlanc; perhaps he’s worth every penny. But what is he doing that the fifth-ranked, or tenth-ranked or fiftieth-ranked provost isn’t? In times like these, when requests for any expenditure above $2,500 is carefully inspected by a board of three university vice presidents (of which LeBlanc is one), perhaps a more thorough explanation is in order.

Like we stated earlier, the most recent data available is from the fiscal year of 2006, which ran from Oct. 2005 through Oct. 2006, back when the money flowed like so much beer at a raging kegger. Perhaps salaries have been readjusted. Perhaps Provost LeBlanc has volunteered a pay cut between then and now. No matter the case, administrators who are asking so much of students should be taking proactive measures to avoid headlines like this.

What’s the solution? While the pay freeze that university president Donna E. Shalala spoke about in a previous “Dialogue” is a good start, like so many other businesses struggling in the current economic climate, perhaps temporary pay cuts for top-earning officials should be in order. Students have been grinning and bearing the cuts across campus; the last thing we need to see is an administrator on a top 10 list. Unless it’s Letterman’s. Laughs are free.