Editor’s note: The following is a letter to the editor regarding a letter to the editor penned by J.D. Nichols regarding President James Ramsey’s compensation. Nichols’ letter was sent to The Courier-Journal and to several U of L faculty and staff members via email. It can be found here.
By Ryan Matheis —
The recent letter to the editor of the Courier-Journal concerning President James Ramsey’s pay and performance out of the Louisville Foundation strikes a nerve that must be addressed. This issue of compensation for presidents, CEOs, and administrators within universities has become an outrageous scenario. The issue of President Ramsey or any university administrator making 1.1 to 1.65 million dollars a year is the exact problem with the entire system.
Over the last 15 years, states have attempted to tax less to spur economic growth and thus provide less for education. In response the student body has had to increase out of their pocket from one-third up to two-thirds of the entire cost of tuition. Despite the enormous jump in the cost of tuition, James Ramsey’s compensation has not only increased at a greater rate than the cost of tuition, it has outpaced nearly every other employee at the University of Louisville.
It is understood that the Louisville Foundation is set up to compensate administrators extra to attract and keep highly talented people; however, is the president 10 to 20 times more effective or putting in 10 to 20 times more hours than all of the faculty and employees at the university? It also begs another question why does the University of Louisville pay the president and administrators through such a foundation when only 5 of 35 universities investigated by the Courier-Journal paid any of their staff through a foundation and none close to the amount of money that Ramsey is compensated?
The letter posed by J.D. Nichols suggests that President Ramsey, the University of Louisville, and the possibly the greater Louisville community will suffer if the president is not paid his full compensation of 1.65 million dollars this year. It is beyond comprehension that such an arrogant position is taken while only a minimal number of people will increase their salary at this level within the university, and student tuition continues to climb out of control. If President Ramsey is bringing in more money to the university than ever before, that reflects donors’ desires for the entire university to reap the benefits.
As a 2006 Master’s Degree recipient from the University of Louisville I believe that criticism of a university president making such vast compensation is extremely questionable and should be critiqued intensely as everyone else involved with the university is not compensated at the same rate. It is an abuse within our culture that is all too common as an elite group of people continue to reward themselves handsomely while the majority of Americans are slowly being eliminated from the American Dream.