Boston University is essentially a small city. There are tens of thousands of people on the campus at any given time. There are almost 3,900 faculty members, more than 30,000 students and 135 acres of campus. BU President Robert Brown has a lot to handle, but also he has a lot of resources.
Yesterday, The Daily Free Press reported that Brown received $1,381,264 as compensation for his work in 2011-2012. The previous year, Brown received $1,141,330. That is a $239,934 difference.
What is the actual basis of this raise? Is it just that he is doing well for the university? According to BU officials, his “strategic plan” is going, well, as planned, and he is being paid for that success. But students are facing tuition increases of about $2,000 every year, and many may view this money as going straight into Brown’s deep pockets.
Brown’s compensation does not come from a special alumni endowment — it comes from the “operating revenue stream” for the university, for which tuition is the main source of money. This spike in his compensation is disrespectful to students and it indicates a lack of prudence on the part of university officials. At a time when students are incurring debts of up to $200,000 just to attend BU, our leader — who was already the highest paid private college president in Massachusetts in 2010 — was awarded a quarter-million dollar raise. Certainly, the man should be acknowledged for his hard work, but such a jump demonstrates a gross insensitivity to the financial plight of almost all of the student body.
BU canceled installation of a Taco Bell in the Warren Towers City Convenience that students wanted when the project became too expensive, and the wrestling team is abruptly being cut after the 2013-14 academic year. Yet, the administration found it fair to whitewash Kenmore Square or to purchase the Cummington Mall so that upper-middle class families would be comfortable sending their children here. This is reflective of what seems to be a real cutthroat business attitude running BU that we should not support.
It’s somewhat offensive to make a gesture like this, even if the president is doing his job properly. This is a move that demonstrates a move toward a cynical, financially oriented way of running the university. There are some components of school that make it a business, but is it justifiable?
Being a private university does not justify such businesslike behavior. We are still an institute of higher education, and if such an institute is truly dedicated to improving the world and crafting the future, it must put the students first and foremost.
Students do not want to pay Brown an extra $250,000 — about four to five students’ entire tuitions — in addition to the president’s $21,000-a-month home that BU requires him to live in. When he sits at home, does he think that every month’s rent paid for by the university is almost half of a full scholarship to BU?
We want our money going to new elevators and to funding the wrestling team and, perhaps most of all, to mitigating the obscene — and constantly rising — costs we bear to be here.
People outside of Massachusetts acknowledge that Brown is the highest paid president in the state. He does a lot behind of the scenes work, but who on campus has actually seen him other than at matriculation? (Here at The Daily Free Press, only two members of the editorial staff have.)
There is absolutely no doubt that Brown is a crucial figure, and we recognize the great work he has done to grow BU. Certainly, he has done good for our school, and it is through his work that we have some of the opportunities that we do. However, he does not need to be compensated in such excess when the economic climate is so harsh (speaking of which, did we mention that BU is soliciting donations from alumni who graduated as recently as 2011 and are thus still in debt?)
In a business, we expect large raises for the higher ups and cuts for the employees. In higher education, we deserve a school to look out for us and respect us. There has to be a better way to prove to Brown and his employees that he is doing a good job other than a quarter million dollar raise directly from a general fund built by students.