As many of our fellow students struggle to balance multiple jobs — scraping together enough money to afford rent and the weekly intake of Top Ramen — the life of a UC Chancellor can often seem far removed.
It is even more removed when the UC Berkeley Chancellor is paid a higher salary than the president of the United States.
Last week, the UC regents approved a $50,000 — 11.4 percent — increase in salary for the incoming UC Berkeley Chancellor, Nicholas B. Dirks, bumping his salary to $487,000 from his predecessor, Robert J. Birgeneau’s salary of $436,800.
In comparison, Pres. Barack Obama currently rings in a yearly income of $400,000.
Why is the Chancellor of UC Berkeley making more than the person hired to navigate the nation?
According to the UC Berkeley Position and Candidate Specification, the role of Chancellor is to perform as “chief academic and executive leader of the UC Berkeley campus.”
Even if Dirks did concede to a $14,000 pay reduction from his recent position at Columbia University, his UC payroll stands in jarring contrast to the realities of the UC fiscal situation. Private institutions have far more funding to throw around on competition for top candidates. The argument that the UC needs to “bend to what he’s used to” so to speak, is ultimately damaging to the school itself.
Although the job of “leader” is critical in times of crisis, the chancellor serves as a symbol of the campus and someone who mediates disputes. What exactly does a chancellor do to deserve such an extensive pay?
City on a Hill is strongly against such an exorbitant raise in the midst of the chaos of this UC fiscal conundrum.
While the UC seeks to employ the best and brightest to all facets of its diverse faculty, the cost of hiring faculty at a competitive salary is simply too high. In the economy of today there are many with similar credentials who are willing to do the same for less.
Take Timothy P. White, who will soon take over as the new Chancellor for the California State University (CSU) system.
White asked the CSU trustees for a 10 percent salary deduction, saying, “as I join the faculty, staff and students who have experienced cuts, salary freezes and increased fees, I too must do my part,” in a statement.
While it is naive to assume altruism motivates everyone, at least some top figures in the badly bruised education system are willing to work toward a common goal in times of hardship — a move that rings loudly in contrast to Dirks’ pay increase.
Dirks and others who fulfill leadership positions within the UC would do their students and administrators a great moral service, if not a financial one, if they were to follow suit.
This isn’t about pointing fingers at those whose jobs we don’t understand. This is about all members of the UC working together for the same goal. This is about fighting for the best education that we possibly can, to fight for future generations of workers and intellectuals not just as students and teachers, but as a California community.