Scholarship News

Incoming University of Texas President Turned Down $1 Million Salary


May 15, 2015
by Suada Kolovic
Understanding how to negotiate your salary is a skill that you’ll hone over your career. Normally, many new employees want to negotiate for higher salaries...but for some, that's not always the case: Incoming University of Texas at Austin President Gregory Fenves turned down a $1 million salary because he thought it was too much. Say what?

Understanding how to negotiate your salary is a skill that you’ll hone over your career. Normally, many new employees want to negotiate for higher salaries...but for some, that's not always the case: Incoming University of Texas at Austin President Gregory Fenves turned down a $1 million salary because he thought it was too much. Say what?

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According to the Austin American-Statesman, Fenves said (in emails obtained by the newspaper) that a $1 million salary was "too high for a public university" and that it might prompt "widespread negative attention from student and faculty given the difficult budgetary constraints of the past five years." Instead, he requested a salary of $750,000 and requested that an annual bonus be capped at 10 percent of his base salary. "It's very, very unusual, especially with what's going on today with presidential salaries. They keep going up and up and up," said James Finkelstein, a public policy professor at George Mason University who studies executive compensation in higher education. (For more on this story, check out Inside Higher Ed.)

What do you think of Fenves' decision to request a lower salary? Should more college presidents follow in his footsteps? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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Jacqueline  on  6/9/2015 4:44:43 PM commented:

He is following the President of the United States lead. Sacrifice! Good for him!!!

Nik K.  on  6/2/2015 3:34:02 PM commented:

To Lisa T.: I agree with you that the world we live in is greedy, but it is not Mr. Fenves' fault. The $1M is an normal salary for such a high level position, so if, say, I apply for the presidential position and ask $125k, most likely the impression will be that I suck as a president. Additionally, if the position is valued at $1M, and I'd say "Oh, $100k would be enough," don't you think they'll deduce that I plan to work to those 10%? I think, like most everyone here, that Mr. Fenves' decision to cut his salary by 25% is commendable. Talking about rejecting $1M offer when you don't have it is very easy. Turning down $250,000-a-year chunk of the salary when holding the offer in your hands takes courage. Way to go, Mr Fenves!

Lisa T  on  5/21/2015 11:19:01 AM commented:

$750,000 ? There is not a job on this planet that deserves anything more than $125,000. We live in a sickly greedy world. 3.5 million children are malnourished in the world Yes here in the U.S as well....How many meals could $750,000 pay for ? Really ? Commend, admire, he's noble ? These are big words to be used for those sitting in ivory towers taking credit for the labor of others. Get some perspective people. Better yet educate yourself.

Christy S.  on  5/21/2015 6:34:02 AM commented:

I believe it is very commendable for him to negotiate down the salary. Most people are all about the almighty dollar, but it seems that this man has compassion for his students and faculty and knows how hard it can be to get into a good school if you don't have the money. He is one that should be a model for all other presidents of universities and should set the trend. Thank you, Mr. Gregory Fenves for being an honest and sincere authoritative figure.

s. smith  on  5/20/2015 3:49:27 PM commented:

Why should the president of a public college/university make more than the president of the United States? I admire his decisions.

A. Ulmer  on  5/19/2015 8:45:15 PM commented:

Hats off to President Gregory Fenves for such a nobal act. It's unfortunate that capitalism has set its branches so firmly into education. Schools are supposed to be non-for-profit institutions, but instead of using student loans to line their pockets they are lining their sidewalks with expensive shrubbery and building $10M buildings year after year.

Jose A  on  5/16/2015 1:04:07 AM commented:

I read first about that 1 million salary offer and I though that it's just not right for a president to have such a salary, especially when all students end up with thousands of dollars in loans. University should rather offer grants to deserving students or more academic scholarships, since UT has the best students - top 7%. I think that will be really helpful. I do commend him to lower his salary. He will still be very well off even with 750,000.

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