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President Bruininks (finally?) feels the heat

President Bruininks made some mysterious remarks about his charitable giving on an MPR interview a while back, hinting of his generosity and how much it pained him to be questioned about a ten percent salary cut. More details are below from the Daily.

Bob, why don't you just come out and cut your salary by ten percent? Also that of all administrators being paid more than, say, 250K$. This would be a lot cleaner and not subject to ambiguity. If you want to make charitable donations - great. You and your wife certainly have a lot of money if you can afford a million dollar condo.

But what's below just doesn't wash. The money does not go into the general university budget where it is needed. The one that is used to pay the salaries of those about to be laid off, remember?

Please wake up on this issue. You have already done yourself - and the university - tremendous damage in this matter. Think of the message that you are sending.

From the Daily:

Bruininks pledges to donate salary increases

University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks plans to give all of his salary increases during his time as president back to the University -- an action he says will total more than the 10 percent cut some are asking him and other administrators to take.

To date, Bruininks and his wife Susan Hagstrum have donated $231,000 to the University, according to the University of Minnesota Foundation. Bruininks' salary has increased $160,000 since January of 2002.

A 10 percent cut to Bruininks' base salary of $455,000 would mean $45,500. He earns about $750,000 with benefits.

Bruininks said he has not made these donations public until now because he said he and his wife wanted to be modest about their financial contributions.

"I really think one's charitable contributions should be done for the best of reasons, not to draw attention to yourself," he said. "But since people have made a real issue of it and suggested that I may be insensitive to the needs of people in this very challenging economy, I thought I ought to at least reveal the commitment we made more than seven years ago."

Bruininks is the 7th highest paid public university president in the United States, according to a study by The Chronicle of Higher Education in November 2008.

The AFSCME Local 3800 union has said the freeze is not enough and is asking the 254 University employees paid over $200,000 to take a 5 percent pay cut.

"The fact that he gives money is all well and good, but he makes $750,000 year," Chief Steward of AFSCME Local 3800 Cherrene Horazuk said. "It just doesn't wash for me."

Horazuk said, "Many employees from all employee groups give money, make charitable donations to a variety of causes that is entirely different than the issue of salary."

Athletics Director Joel Maturi -- the 10th highest paid administrator at the University as of September 2008 -- said he understands the critical eyes on the University's top paid administrators.

"When people are making significant dollars, ... I understand that people wonder if we should be making as much as we do, it's a very valid question," Maturi said.

However, Maturi said he feels that University administrators are paid market, or competitive, wages.


To quote one of the few straight-talking and admirable administrators around:

From the College of Design Memo From Dean Fisher May 26, 2009 Monday Minute, May 26, 2009

Dear Colleagues,

Mark Twain once said, "Action speaks louder than words, but not nearly as often." One action the college has taken has certainly registered with the University.

Our leadership group -- Associate Deans Kate Solomonson and Marilyn DeLong, Assistant Dean Kate Maple, Chief of Staff Kathy Witherow, and I -- may be the only college deans at the U taking a 10 percent reduction in our appointments next academic year in order to help balance our budget. That reduction equals 26 days without pay, which some of us will spread out across the year and others will take mostly during the summer. I commend my four colleagues for joining me in this voluntary reduction; such an action does not happen nearly as often as I think it should among the leaders of organizations in times like these.

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