Friday, November 14, 2008

Figures don't lie...

So the crusty Gazette did an interesting “investigative” article yesterday about the salary woes at our favorite flagship University after requesting the documentation from Umass, presumably under Public Documents Law--or maybe they just said please.

Of course all they needed to do is surf to their competition the Springfield Republican, who put this nifty data base on MassLive of not only all Umass salaries (including “pot washers”) but another database as well of all state employees.

Umass payroll database

I hope somebody can do that for all employees in the town and schools of Amherst someday.

What’s interesting about Umass is not the salary of the average professor--either $83,477 according to the Gazette or $112,000 according to Chronicle of Higher Education--who presumably does a fair amount of actual teaching.

Just scroll around the database for any job title with the term “provost” in it:
Vice Provost (2) at an average of $200,000 each
Associate Vice Provost (1) at $202,389
Provost for Academic Affairs at $272,595
Associate Provost (six) at an average of $157,689

And of course my favorite Associate Provost is Bryan Harvey, former Amherst town government superstar (and State Rep wannabe) who comes in at only $144,000 --slightly below average--but more than made up for by having his wife Lynn Griesemer pull down $172,934 as a “Staff Administrator” for the Donahue Institute, which describes itself as “the public service, outreach, and economic development unit of the University of Massachusetts President's Office."

Curiously none of their employees show up on the Umass database, so you have to go the other web database of all state employees to find any of the salaries of the 99 Donahue Institute staff (yes I said 99…yikes.)
And yeah, you just gotta love the Gazette's artsy photo of the guy working on the UMass $50 million Recreation Center at sunset, soooooo he's getting time-and-a-half at prevailing wage...Safe bet the Center will come in a tad over budget.


Anonymous said...

I didn't notice this article because I was too busy reading the cover of the Bulletin where I learned that Amherst tax money is going to provide free lunches to residents of South Deerfield.

Jim In Deerfield said...


Ed said...

Never forget that *I* am the person who started all of this some years back when I taped the names & salaries to the front of the Student Union Building.

One caveat on the salary stuff -- there are trust funds and if one is paid from more than one pot, both aren't always totaled.

Anonymous said...

JIM, one of the first things I would give up, if I were down and out and had to eat at the Survival Center, would be my computer. I would sell the damn thing to get money to buy food. You really seem to mock the hand that fed you. or are you a clown, funning with the first commenter?

Until later.......................

Anonymous said...


What is the point of all this? That people can earn a good living? The UMass salaries have been available for years. The Boston Heald Website has the salary of every state worker. The Gazette didn't exactly discover something new.

Ed said...

The point of this - at least MY point of this - is to show the legitimacy of the student rage.

Amherst and the greater community exists on the backs of the students. What was an affordable public university back in the '70s -- when these jobs weren't paying this much -- has become damn expensive.

And from a student perspective, the entire Town of Amherst is just a component of the machinery that exists to extract money from students. The poor subsidizing the rich. These rich folk as well...

There is one other thing: Amherst and UMass today are not unlike Detroit and GM a generation ago. Detroit prospered in a world where everyone "had" to have two cars and "had" to replace both every 3-4 years and thus had to buy them from Detroit automakers. Amherst exists in a world where everyone "has" to have a college degree and UMass is technically cheaper.

This, too, will pass. There will be a fall when the students don't arrive and the bottom truly will fall out...

LarryK4 said...

Ed makes a good point--but that is not my point.

My points are many. Yeah, I’m not impressed with Gazette salary article as being groundbreaking or anything like that. AND, I think they had the wrong slant.

My blue-blood compatriots over at posted yesterday about the follow-up email to the campus community from President Tony Marx outlining AC’s response to the economic downturn.

“Non-academic departments (e.g. physical plant, alumni and parent programs, etc.) have been asked to prepare plans for the spring semester (and beyond) with options for both 5% and 10% reductions in total department budget.”

BUT, here in the People’s Republic of Amherst the clueless Finance Committee was talking to Town Meeting about allowing departments heads over a 2% budget INCREASE this coming year.

And Mr. Marx is also instituting what sounds very much to me (and the folks at as a hiring freeze.

Even more interesting, all of this happens NOW as Amherst College prepares for the Spring Semester.

The People’s Republic of Amherst, however, only worries about the next Fiscal Year starting July 1’st (rather than the current one that is less than half over).

So my point about salaries is this: if the state can renege on negotiated salary raises because of the economic downturn then why not the town? The School Committee was too generous with teacher contracts and they were settled first--with the town (DPW, Town Hall, Police, Fire etc) coming later. So guess what? Everybody else got what the teachers got.

And YES, the average Amherst teacher who actually teaches (like the average Umass professor) is probably not overpaid.

But some administrators who have no contact at all with students are. But because THEY are administrators THEY decide where to make budget cuts THEY are not likely to lay themselves off or take a pay cut.

Anonymous said...

I often find your comment explanations to be very clear. Sometimes your original posts are a bit opaque. Like when the guy lost his house this summer. I couldn't even amke a bit of sense out of your original post. Only when the comments poured in and you replied did it have any explanation as to why this guy was losing his house. You might want to consider that for the future. sometimes I think your posts are only for insiders.

LarryK4 said...

Well, in order to be an insider, all you need to do is drop in four or five times a week for a couple minutes per visit.

Howard Ziff always said to keep columns to 600 words. My Amherst Bulletin columns always came in around 750 (whittled down from original drafts of 900). But comment responses are fairly easy to keep brief (especially this time of night)