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Amidst widespread cuts over the summer, faculty and staff at the University of Minnesota College of Design took the phrase “shared sacrifice” seriously. To prevent layoffs, five of the College of Design’s top staff took a dramatic 10 percent decrease in salary, saving the University of Minnesota $115,000. Seeing high-paid staff sharing the burden of cuts is refreshing, and we should see more of it. That is exactly what the clerical workers’ union - AFSCME 3800 - and others demanded at their recent “chop from the top” rally.
The numbers are striking: 254 University employees have salaries (not total earnings) of over $200,000. If these 254 employees were to take 10 furlough days (amounting to a loss of 3.75 percent of their salary, less than the 5 percent cut the union asks), it would save the University more than $2 million. It would take furloughs from over 1,500 “average” clerical workers to save the University that much money .
Beside straight salary cuts, the University could afford to consolidate its central administration. We have 40 employees with “vice president” in their title. Their collective salary amounts to $8.4 million, equivalent to the combined yearly tuition revenues of nearly 750 in-state undergraduates, or the salaries of 84 faculty (at $100,000 per year).
President Bruininks has previously pledged to donate all of his salary increases back to the University, but the entire central administration should take the initiative to share in the necessary sacrifices. Students and lower-level workers are too often hit hardest during fiscal hardship; those who can better afford the blow would show great integrity to share the brunt of it.