LEXINGTON, KY -- KCTS President Michael McCall, who oversees Kentucky's community college system, is the highest paid president of a community college system in the country, a revelation that has employees disgruntled, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Sunday edition.
Faculty and staff of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System knew McCall made a good salary for the difficult job of creating an entirely new system of community and technical schools -- a move that came out of the higher education reform act of 1997.
But faculty members such as Jake Gibbs were shocked to find that McCall's package of salary and benefits totaled $610,000. That number, which is from a survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education, does not compare favorably to the pay of KCTCS faculty and staff members, who not only are the lowest paid in Kentucky, but rank well below national averages for community colleges. Current state funding problems mean that bigger raises are probably out of the question for the immediate future, reports the Herald-Leader.
"The main issue is that the president of the system is so far above market value and we are so far below, and the Board of Regents appears not to be particularly concerned about that," said Gibbs, a history professor at Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington.
KCTCS pay scales have risen, according to the Council on Postsecondary Education. The average faculty salary has gone from $36,709 to $47,866 this year. But it still lags well behind the national average of $54,895, according to the American Association of University Professors, reports the newspaper.
For professor Bill West, it's fine to pay McCall at top levels, so long as that same commitment is made for everyone else.
"I don't argue with paying him a competitive salary, but we don't apply that same argument to faculty and staff who are on the front lines," said West, a professor at Owensboro Community and Technical College. "We can't afford to pay the average, much less the top."
The story about McCall's salary also happened to appear shortly before dismal news about KCTCS funding for the next two years.
"It's been a real morale buster," said Barbara Ashley, executive director of the Community College Faculty and Staff Alliance. "Everyone understands that times are hard. Then we find out he's the highest paid in the country. People are always willing to tighten their belts for the good of the cause, if we all know we're doing it together."
Richard Bean, chairman of the KCTCS Board of Regents, which sets McCall's pay, said McCall's package is "totally and absolutely justified.
"KCTCS was a brand-new system and, in my opinion, we're known as the nation's best," Bean said. "He has been able to retain some of the best (community) college presidents in the country, the finest faculty and staff who are here because Mike McCall is running the system. I'm proud of Kentucky having something that's at the top instead of at the bottom."
McCall was traveling and not available for comment on this story, according to his spokeswoman, reports the Herald-Leader.
Copyright: Lexington Herald-Leader