When Walter Broadnax took the helm of one of Atlanta’s historically black colleges — Clark Atlanta University — in 2002, the school, he said, was in financial trouble. So he set about laying off professors, shutting down some programs and increasing the tuition.
At the time, those moves provoked widespread controversy on campus — a group even took Broadnax to court — but they seemed necessary. Now, it turns out that the hatchet man who was cutting classes and hiking tuitions was paid more than a million dollars in 2008, according to a new survey in the Chronicle of Higher Education (via The Daily Beast). (Broadnax is 22nd on the list.) That’s simply outrageous.
UPDATE:Via e-mail, Dr. Robert Franklin, president of Atlanta’s private Morehouse College, which is ranked higher academically than Clark Atlanta, told me that he earned $285,000 in salary last year, with a total compensation package of around $330,000.
Morehouse is smaller, with fewer than 3000 students, while CAU has around 4,000, including about 1000 graduate students. (Morehouse has no graduate programs.) Morehouse has a balanced budget and a $125 million endowment.
Broadnax whittled down the deficit at CAU, but he didn’t eliminate it. He also left an assortment of problems related to financial aid and registration.
All over the country, at colleges large and small, students are struggling to keep up with soaring tuition costs as college presidents rake in the dough. (Take a look at the complete list.) But it’s especially troubling to see an academic in charge of one of the nation’s small, financially-struggling colleges take home exorbitant pay. The school couldn’t afford it!
Clark Atlanta University is a private school, and its board of directors can pay the president whatever they like. But their decision was irresponsible and unfair; CAU is a small college that depends on working-class and poor students who must borrow money to attend college. CAU has no endowment to speak of. What would have possessed the board to think Broadnax was worth that much money?
As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in 2007, when Broadnax imposed a five percent tuition increase:
While a 5 percent tuition increase falls in line with those at other schools nationally, Broadnax said he understands that the hike hits Clark Atlanta students harder. Just 34 percent of incoming freshmen finish their degrees at the university. Many come from lower-income households. Most are financing their education with loans.
“We thought a lot about [the increase], ” he said. “We agonized and suffered over it.”
Did he agonize at all over that excessive salary he was collecting? Broadnax would not likely have earned that kind of money in private enterprise. He’s not a physician, a research scientist or an engineer. Having left CAU in 2008, he’s now teaching at Syracuse University, where it’s quite unlikely he’s earning that kind of money.
Private HBCUs claim to occupy a special place in the nation’s educational landscape, awarding degrees to more black students than other colleges because they tend to spend more time making sure those students can graduate. They doesn’t happen at CAU, where only about a third of incoming freshmen get their degrees. The board of trustees owes students and alumni an explanation.