On Thursday, 6/3/10, the Oregon Board of Higher Education will go into executive session for “Presidential Evaluations,” presumably evaluating the presidents of each of the Oregon University System’s seven component institutions (see agenda, here).
Back in January, 2010, the Oregonian listed the salaries and
benefits of these presidents. The presidents of Oregon’s three premier
universities (U of O, OSU and PSU) probably each make over $500,000 per year in
total compensation (see article here, especially the chart). By contrast,
Oregon’s Superintendent of Public Instruction makes $72,000 per year (plus
benefits). Oregonian columnist Susan Nielsen thinks that figure needs to be
Oregon sits in a class by itself at $72,000 -- about 10 percent lower than the second-lowest state.
That's certainly a good living and higher than the state's average household income, but it doesn't reflect the job's significance. Some senior teachers earn nearly that much. Most elementary school principals earn more than that. Local superintendents earn double that in the big districts.
Unfortunately, the performance of the presidents of Oregon’s three premier universities does not make a good case that better performances come from higher salaries.
I think we already pay these three university presidents to be Oregon’s educational leaders for our K-20 public education system. And I think that they, and the Board of Higher Education, are failing us. We cannot have a globally competitive higher ed system without having a globally competitive K-12 system. So my first criticism of these three presidents is that they have provided zero leadership to Oregon’s K-12 public education system. No advocacy by them of programs for underperforming students and schools? No promotion of the need for contemporary foreign languages, like Mandarin, or high school study abroad programs (so students come to Oregon’s universities with these skills and experiences). And no promotion from them of online education as the cost effective mode for education’s future.
They should be the strategic leaders for Oregon’s educational system. And they are not.
Plus there are two large global trends that have been largely overlooked by these presidents: digitalization and the rise of emerging markets, especially China, in an increasingly global economy. I blogged about Sir Martin Sorrel, CEO of the WPP Group, and his appearance on the Charlie Rose show (here). Sorrel has been strategically reorganizing his company on the twin themes of “digitialization” and “emerging markets.” I think Sorrel is right and our three university presidents are wrong. It’s the job of university presidents to get the strategic vision right.
I would not give them good evaluations.