LEXINGTON—University of Kentucky President Lee Todd, Jr. attracted public scorn earlier this spring when he announced that he chose to accept $95,000 out of a $145,000 bonus, in addition to his already “Top 20-esque” annual salary. Todd remarked that the bonus should be interpreted as his “fair compensation,” not as a token of overweening pride.
“I hope he got a decent tax credit for such a generous contribution,” said Susan Curtis, a first-year student at UK.
Mort Fuller, however, had another perspective on the presidential bonus issue.
“When I was five years old, my dad was unemployed for a time, and things were tight around the house. My parents allowed me to have six cookies for dessert every night though, but I remembered that times were tight, so I only decided to take four. Looking back, I now realize that I probably didn’t need any cookies at all, actually.”
All allegories aside, Todd’s decision represents a growing trend of higher education higher-ups: a sweeping acceptance of the “I deserve it” attitude.
“Sometimes in life we don’t get what we deserve,” said Fuller, who was quick to remind us that University of Louisville President James Ramsey rejected the $113,000 bonus that he earned. Ramsey cited the state’s budget crisis as a reason for declining the money, and he speculated that accepting it could be interpreted as “hypocritical.”
“For all of the banter about which school is better, UK or U of L, you never hear anyone talking about their presidents and their radically differing attitudes toward the doctrine of self-entitlement,” Fuller continued.
Todd did say that the money he’s turning down will be poured into a series of university programs.
“And let’s not forget: I let students cut across my lawn while walking to class all the time,” Todd insisted.
The controversy over accepting ill-begotten gains comes at a time when UK’s general morale is at an all-time low. Professors and staff feel the pinch, as do academic departments who don’t have the funds to foster quality undergraduate education.
“The entire point of working in higher education is that you don’t get fairly compensated for the work that you do,” said Jamie Olaf Riverra, a graduate student at UK. “Why is it that our administrators stake out the “I’ve earned it” mantra as justification for their mongering?”
A contact from the President’s Office at the University of Kentucky suggested that it would be a detriment to UK’s public image as a flagship institution if Todd refused the bonus.
“We want to indicate that we are a Top 20 university, and that our leaders earn and gracefully accept compensation befitting of a Top 20. To do otherwise is to ignore our charge to the people of the Commonwealth.”