Your article on the vertiginous increase of salaries for university presidents (“Most College Presidents’ Pay Climbing,” U.S. News, Nov. 17) repeats the old refrain of college officials that generous compensation packages are necessary to attract and retain qualified leaders. This argument rests on the false assumption that there is only a very limited pool of experienced and eligible candidates from the academic world whose unique talents are therefore worth any price.
The fact is that there is no dearth of qualified applicants. Experience has shown that leaders in other areas—business, government, the military or the professions—have often made outstanding university presidents. And limiting the focus to insider candidates means boards will rarely meet the kinds of candidates higher education now so desperately needs—those who are willing to make waves to ensure a better product at the lowest possible cost. Trustees at our public institutions should keep this in mind the next time they search for a president or negotiate contracts.
Anne D. Neal
American Council of Trustees and Alumni