Michael Young's Paycheck

The University of Washington's new president's raise is bigger than you think.

Michael Young, the University of Washington's incoming president, did not earn $723,595 a year in his former role as head of the University of Utah. This bears emphasizing, because The Seattle Times and a handful of other papers have erroneously reported that Young made just that for the 2009-10 school year, a figure taken from a confusing report in The Chronicle of Higher Education. And if you believe that Young's income was $723,595, then it seems like a short distance to match predecessor Mark Emmert's controversial annual compensation of $905,000. In fact, Young "only" earned $423,000 a year, according to Fred Esplin, the University of Utah's vice-president for institutional advancement. (The university also provided a house and car for the prez.) So why did the Chronicle report earlier this month that Young's earnings were $300,000 higher? It's a matter of timing, Esplin explains. During the 2009-10 year, Young received a lump sum of $375,000 that was an accumulation of five years' worth of deferred income. Each year, a private foundation had put aside $75,000 for Young, which he was to receive if he stayed the full five years. The private money supplemented his taxpayer-funded income of $348,000. So his true yearly income was his base salary plus $75,000. Esplin says he "complained loudly" to the Chronicle about its grossly higher compensation figure for Young. (Chronicle spokesperson Michael Solomon said the publication actually provided two compensation figures this year for each university president it listed in its annual report on earnings, and only one of the figures included payments from deferred compensation. But the report doesn't indicate whether the payments were for one or multiple years.) Therefore, it's still true, as we first suggested when Young's name appeared as a candidate for UW prez, that there was no need for Washington's taxpayers to shell out once again for an excessive salary. Young, by all accounts a man of great decency and intellect, would have to have had a lot of chutzpah to demand a $500,000 raise­—especially in these economic times, when the legislature is brutalizing UW's budget and approving dramatic tuition hikes. Turns out, Young has chutzpah to spare: On Monday the university announced his new salary of more than $800,000. Nearly double what he was making previously but, according to University Board of Regents chair Herb Simon, a figure reflective of "the economic conditions the state of Washington is facing."

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