Principles are worth a lot to Weber State University President Paul Thompson. One of them - his commitment to dealing with the university's budgetary problems - will have cost him about $23,000 by the end of the 1996-97 school year.
Decreasing enrollments at WSU have created real funding problems, since state allocations are based on student populations at Utah's colleges and universities. Thompson took no salary increase last year, though the Board of Regents offered a raise to him along with the other institution presidents.This year's proposed salary increase is 4 percent, but Thompson said he would not accept the full pay raise unless WSU added 200 students to its enrollment. The goal was not reached, so Thompson will take a 2 percent hike.
Thompson earned $108,804 last year, the same salary as he received the previous year. He could have been making about $120,000, and with 4 percent added for 1996-97, would have made nearly $125,000 in the coming year. Instead, he will earn $111,000.
What's more, Thompson makes substantially less than presidents of other U.S. colleges and universities similar to WSU. The median nationally is about $130,000.
How refreshing to see a university president back up his stated commitment to his institution by dipping into his own pocket. The faculty and staff at WSU have made similar sacrifices in salary increases to help offset the enrollment dip.
They decided to forgo higher salaries in order to keep quality programs, hoping when enrollment figures improve, so will their paychecks. WSU students, Utah taxpayers and legislators should appreciate and applaud such dedication to education.
But future budgeting decisions should take into account the problems caused at Weber State by fluctuating enrollment. Educators must not be asked to make such personal sacrifices year after year. It's admirable, but it should be only a temporary solution.