President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg made $404,014 during 1997-1998, making him the ninth-highest-paid college president in the nation, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Trachtenberg deserves every penny of his salary, but such substantial earnings carry a great deal of responsibility. The University president has an obligation to the students and faculty of GW, as well as the neighborhood in which the University resides.
The concerns of students and faculty should be addressed promptly and effectively. The president should be as receptive as possible to the interests of the surrounding community. It’s part of Trachtenberg’s job to balance these interests and concerns when determining what is best for the University.
Trachtenberg’s reign at GW has seen the University go from a mid-level commuter school with a primary focus on graduate studies, to a highly competitive undergraduate-centered institution. Trachtenberg also has been responsible for the expansion of GW far beyond its former physical boundaries.
These accomplishments clearly warrant Trachtenberg’s salary and benefits. But at a University where students pay exorbitant amounts in tuition and fees, why are teachers paid average salaries while Trachtenberg is paid an above-average one?
With a high-profile salary and a University whose profile is constantly rising, Trachtenberg has an even greater responsibility to perform his job with diligence. The eyes of other institutions of higher education are upon him and GW. He needs to ensure that GW continues to provide a quality education for students, to look out for students’ needs, to communicate with the Foggy Bottom neighborhood – and everything else a highly paid University president should do.
Trachtenberg’s efforts have propelled GW into national repute, and his earnings reflect his success. But he should always remember the students who help pay his salary – therein lies his primary responsibility.