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The University of Chicago Needs Some Occupy Wall Street

Written By : Warner Todd Huston
June 17, 2014

If you’ll recall, the brief but noisy Occupy Wall street movement was all about protesting the “One Percent,” those evil rich folks that apparently return nothing to the nation. Well a look at the compensation of those at the University of Chicago in President Obama’s home city shows that the Occupy folks were protesting the wrong people! It looks like the one percent reside at the UofC.

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A very in depth article by David Francis Mihalyfy reveals what he calls a university mired in outsized compensation “hidden by a PR machine, funded by growing tuition and debt, and allocated despite questionable job performance”

Mihalyfy serves up this damning assessment of the university in Obama’s Chicago:

Over the last decade, profit motive has made significant inroads into the American ivory tower. At universities, money is meant to support a larger social mission, not profit presidents and provosts: ideally, these high-visibility support staff should believe enough in education and research to want any extra resources to go there rather than to themselves. At places like UChicago, however, the ideal of administrative public service has been gradually replaced with that of maximizing short-term self-interest, despite debatable benefits to the institutions and the populations that they claim to serve.

As it turns out, the president of Uof makes more money than the president of Harvard! Yeah, that Harvard.

UofC President Robert Zimmer has leapt to number one in his field… for some unexplainable reason. As Mihalyfy discovered, Zimmer recently got a “110%, $1.76 million pay spike that not only brought him from $1.6 to $3.4 million in total compensation, but also the top position in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual rankings of highest-paid private university presidents.”

Zimmer’s newest pay scale puts him at $1.9 million a year, double what he was making only five years ago.

Meanwhile, Harvard’s president made only $899,000 last year.

but it isn’t just Zimmer who is raking in the cash. Just about all the top administration figures have seen their pay double over past rates.

But, hey, maybe this isn’t a big deal? Maybe the UofC is raking in the cash so the wildly increased compensation is justifiable? Seems “no” is the answer to that. In fact, the school is going into debt at a quick clip.

Concurrently, UChicago has become an “outlier” and “put its credit rating at risk” by taking on debt equal to more than half of its endowment, according to Bloomberg News. A leaked financial plan from June 2013 had already indicated that UChicago was on the path to owe three times as much debt as peers like Northwestern. Accordingly, Crain’s Chicago Business predicted in August that due to high debt levels “ratings agencies could downgrade the university’s credit by as many as two notches.” Since then, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have shifted the outlook of its bond rating to negative on three separate occasions in anticipation of a likely credit downgrade. Fundraising operations cannot bring in enough money to keep the credit rating unquestioned, yet compensation of a single person like Zimmer makes up as much as half of projected major annual operating deficits. Nevertheless, UChicago’s financial adviser has vouched that “[t]he money is going to… programmatic strengths.”

Mihalyfy also notes that job performance doesn’t seem to justify the massive hike in pay, either.

So, what is going on, here? Well, for one thing this is a perfect mirror of how liberals are running government into the ground, isn’t it? High pay for no performance, to people with no accountability, all paid by other people’s money.

It is a house of cards that must, eventually collapse.

But it is Obama’s Chicago, isn’t it?

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