Recently, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher has been at the center of some controversial news regarding her annual pay. After CUNY Chancellor James Milliken assumed his post in June to the tune of $670,000, the SUNY Board of Trustees acted to increase Zimpher’s pay to match or exceed Milliken’s.
After a few weeks of poor feedback regarding the proposal, the news broke that Zimpher had turned down the proposed raise, stating as much to SUNY Chairman H. Carl McCall in a letter released to the Albany Times Union.
“I appreciate the gesture and your faith in me and belief that I … have served SUNY in a manner that merits additional compensation,” Zimpher wrote. “I have decided to decline the proposed added compensation offered to me by the board.”
First of all, Cardinal Points applauds Zimpher for declining the raise. Whatever her motivation is, the move definitely shows her awareness of just how poorly accepting more money would come off.
At the same time, Cardinal Points questions the motivation of the Board of Trustees for offering the raise in the first place.
We feel that this proposition from the Board of Trustees shows a tremendous disconnect between the school system and its students.
At a time of the year when meal plans are running out and students are scraping together money just to afford food, throwing several hundred thousand dollars at someone already making more than the president of the United States doesn’t signal to SUNY students that the governing body of our academic institution has a clear understanding of just how difficult it is to afford a college education.
The total expense of a four-year education at your average New York state school comes closer to $100,000 than students would like, and taking out an assortment of loans is the far from ideal, albeit sometimes necessary, route.
This declined proposition begs the question: What is SUNY doing with the money now that Zimpher isn’t getting it?
The system was obviously prepared to do without an extra few hundred thousand dollars, and assuming SUNY wasn’t planning to pay Zimpher using money stripped from other areas of funding, that means this money is available for the state to spend — and on a yearly basis.
So where will it go?
Cardinal Points is fully aware of the renovations the campus is undergoing. However, while those renovations are necessary and the money well spent, that doesn’t change the fact that college is expensive. SUNY is now left with the task of utilizing the leftover funds to either increase the quality students receive for the same price or decrease the cost to students.
It might sound insignificant to the Board of Trustees, but even an extra $200 would be a welcome addition to a lot of students’ budgets. Finals are stressful enough — students should not have to be concerned with how they’re paying for their next meal.