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University Presidents’ Salaries Soar, Faculty Pay Remains Stagnant



University Salaries discussed at meeting

Two public university presidents in Mississippi now earn almost $1 million annually. Meanwhile, faculty and staff pay at the state’s eight universities remains stagnant.

The hefty salaries for Glenn Boyce of the University of Mississippi and Mark Keenum of Mississippi State University are largely, but not entirely, due to private foundation supplements. Both presidents receive $950,000 a year, with taxpayers funding $500,000 of their salaries and foundations covering the rest, according to IHL board meeting minutes.

Keenum and Boyce received $100,000 raises after the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees conducted performance reviews at the end of last year, spokesperson John Sewell wrote in an email. Sewell emphasized the critical role university presidents play, noting the public university system‘s projected $8 billion impact on Mississippi’s economy over the next six years.

Unequal Raises Among Presidents

The board also reviewed Nora Miller, president of Mississippi University for Women, but she did not receive a raise. Miller will continue to make $300,000 plus a $5,000 foundation supplement under her new four-year contract.

Last month, the board approved significant retention plans for Boyce and Keenum. These bonuses, funded by university foundations, are not available to any other college president in Mississippi. Keenum could receive up to $1.4 million if he remains at Mississippi State through 2028, while Boyce could earn up to $800,000.

Despite taxpayer contributions to university presidents’ salaries, the board considers its salary decisions confidential. Sewell declined to answer further questions, citing personnel matters.

Criteria for Evaluation

A document obtained by Mississippi Today shows the criteria used to evaluate the eight college presidents, including leadership in enrollment management, student retention, and accreditation efforts.

Under Keenum, Mississippi State ranks as a top research institution according to the National Science Foundation. Boyce’s “Now and Ever” campaign has raised over $1.5 billion in private support for Ole Miss.

The IHL board has released legislative priorities for the next year, including increasing pay for faculty and staff who make less than their peers at other Southern universities.

Impact of Inflation on Faculty Salaries

Since 2016, the average faculty member in Mississippi has seen nearly an $11,000 pay cut due to inflation, with the average faculty salary in fall 2022 at $68,676. Despite nominal wage increases, inflation and rising health insurance premiums have prevented meaningful raises, according to the board.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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