Sen. John Cowdery asked an interesting question in Tuesday's Letters to the Editor. He compared UA President Mark Hamilton's salary to Secretary of State Colin Powell's salary, and then asked, "what's wrong with this picture?"
With all due respect, senator, what's wrong with this picture is that you're comparing apples to oranges. Librarians don't compare their salaries to brain surgeons' salaries. Colin Powell and Mark Hamilton are in different lines of work. It is far more accurate to compare President Hamilton's salary to those of other public university presidents.
The Chronicle of Higher Education recently conducted a study of 131 public university presidents' salaries and compensation packages. One-hundred, twenty-one of these presidents either had use of a house or received generous housing compensation. Many of the presidents in the study also received other forms of compensation such as cars, privately funded salaries, expense accounts, and club memberships.
Since President Hamilton's additional compensations seem to be similar to those of the other presidents in the study, I'll concentrate on their salaries.
Of the 131 public university salaries in the study, President Hamilton's salary ranked 65th - smack dab in the middle. According to the study, the average salary for a public college president in 2002-03 was $256,240. President Hamilton's base salary of $250,000 falls short of this amount.
Actually, I too am comparing apples to oranges. Mark Hamilton is president of an entire university system, with multiple campuses covering a broad geographic area. Only 31 of the presidents in the Chronicle's study were in charge of entire university systems. When compared to these 31 presidents whose salaries averaged $321,962, President Hamilton's salary ranked 24th. Maybe we should give President Hamilton a raise.