It is unfortunate more people in and around Lawrence as well as throughout the Middle West do not know more about, or appreciate, Baker University.
It is a top-flight university with excellent leadership. Thursday, the school celebrated the opening of the current academic year with Jeane Kirkpatrick, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as the convocation's featured speaker.
Baker operates under the shadow of much larger Kansas University, but this does not diminish the quality of the university, the caliber of its student body or the superb leadership of President Dan Lambert.
Baker is the oldest university in Kansas, opening its door for students in 1858 (KU started in 1866), with its mission to "provide a dynamic community dedicated to excellence in liberal and professional education, to the integration of learning with faith and values and to the personal."
This year, enrollment at the small, liberal arts university is approximately 860 students from throughout the U.S. and around the world, plus another 650 or so enrolled in off-campus courses in Kansas City.
LAMBERT HAS done a first-class job in attracting and maintaining support for the school, and it is fair to say the university is stronger today than at any time in its distinguished history. This does not mean there are not many and continuing needs on the picturesque Baldwin campus, but Lambert, his associates and friends and alumni of the university are enthusiastic and effective in their efforts to solicit additional support for the institution. The school has a bright future due to the hard work and leadership of Lambert plus the efforts of a loyal faculty, a top-flight student body and thousands of interested friends and alumni.
SWITCHING from a small university such as Baker to one of the nation's largest state universities, Minnesota, with an enrollment of more than 40,000 . . .
Many Minnesota residents, state legislators and university faculty members are not hiding their displeasure and anger over the salaries of several new administrators added to the Twin Cities campus. If the folks in Minnesota are upset and concerned, it would be interesting to know what the reaction might be if there were similar salary levels at Kansas Board of Regents schools.
Within the past few weeks, Minnesota officials announced the hiring of a new health sciences vice president at a salary of $210,000. This represents a $51,000 jump over what was paid to his predecessor with the new vice president assuming his duties early next year.
THIS HIRING comes on top of the June hiring of a new dean of the university's school of business. The new dean, David Kidwell, is being paid $196,000 in an annual salary, more than any other business school dean at any other public business school in the country. On top of the salary, the dean was promised $29,000 in consulting fees. The total compensation package for the business school dean comes to $225,000, which is substantially higher than the salary of the university's president, who receives $153,300.
As might be expected, there has been much discussion of these salary levels in Minnesota university circles and throughout the state, particularly at a time when the university has been engaged in a period of freezing wages and cutting budgets.
SPEAKING OF salaries and benefits in the university arena, Colorado University has come up with a unique salary package. The university's new president, Judith Albino, is receiving a salary of approximately $150,000, but the interesting twist to this story is that her husband will receive a salary of $30,000 to help take care of the chancellor's residence. Mrs. Albino will be spending most of her time taking care of university matters and will be unable to attend to household chores, which her husband now will perform . . . for $30,000 a year.
THE SALARIES of university presidents and chancellors may seem high, and they are indeed handsome figures. However, being a chancellor or a president is a tough job, and it is interesting to note how many of the nation's outstanding universities those who are members of the American Association of Universities either are involved in the search process for a new chief executive or have just filled the position. There is a high turnover rate among university presidents and chancellors, and in most instances, those in such positions who are doing a good job could be taking home a much larger paycheck in a non-academic position.
Education is one of this country's biggest challenges, whether at the kindergarten or university level, and the question of teacher, faculty and administration compensation is one of the critical factors in the education equation. It may not be the most important factor, because there are many facets to the "education puzzle," but salaries are a major influence when a person is considering career possibilities and what he or she might be able to look forward to in income.
WHO KNOWS whether the salary being paid to the Minnesota vice president of health sciences is excessive or right in line with what the job demands. The same situation applies to the school's new business dean and maybe Colorado officials should have provided an even larger compensation to President and Mr. Albino.
One thing is known, however. Schools, whether those in local school districts such as Lawrence School District 497, at private schools such as Baker, or at public universities such as Kansas, Minnesota and Colorado, must be prepared to offer competitive salaries if they expect to attract and retain first-class teachers and administrators. Salary levels play a significant role in creating a favorable or unfavorable image for those considering various career paths. We must attract top-flight men and women to the business of teaching and education, and pay is a big part of the picture.