Staff Editorial: How big was your last paycheck?

Recently, President Obama announced that the government will mandate that officials working for companies receiving government aid cannot make more than $500,000 a year. Along those same lines, Washington State University President Elson Floyd just took a $100,000 pay cut in response to the current economic situation. University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann gave back a $100,000 gift to her school.

These donations and sacrifices likely won’t make a huge impact to either school’s operating budget, but it could very well be called a million dollar gesture. GW is not floundering financially – yet – but now is the time for GW top administrators to look into sending a similar message to students and families.

President Steven Knapp’s salary will not be made known until next year, but in 2006, former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg earned $691,204 (compared with a median public university president salary of $427,400), while men’s basketball head coach Karl Hobbs earned $509,059 – and this is all without benefits. Donald Lindsey, the chief investment officer, earned $730,000 that same year.

Is he worth $730,000 – not including benefits – a year? Probably. Should he, or the other GW administrators, feel comfortable accepting that much compensation when students are being forced to leave GW for financial reasons? Maybe not.

Our administrators work hard, no question about it, and we by no means want anyone to be forced to take a salary cut.

Nonetheless, these administrators should consider this chance to make a meaningful and symbolic gesture. All money saved from voluntarily cut salaries should do a 180 into the financial aid fund, directed at helping those students that suddenly find themselves unable to finance their next semester at GW. The allocation of additional financial aid funds is appreciated, but if GW really is doing everything possible to keep students here, a tangible sacrifice from our top administrators would speak volumes.

To make it clear, we are not calling for mandatory cuts for anyone – thankfully we are not at a point where this is necessary. But even if just each of GW’s five top earning administrators put $100,000 towards the scholarship fund, it would pay a full year’s tuition for about 10 students.

GW may not have made any large sacrifices yet in reaction to the economy, but the same is not true for individual families. As parents lose jobs and groceries get more expensive, paying tuition may not even be an option for some. Even if a voluntary salary cut does not fix everything for these families, the gesture in itself will be priceless in showing the students that GW really is here for them.

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