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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

April 27, 2010 at 3:28 PM

Emmert’s out at UW, time to rethink prez salary

Here’s a suggestion for the University of Washington, which is now hunting for a new president to lead the state’s biggest school and font of research that helps drive the region’s tech industry.

Maybe it’s time for the UW overseers to take a cue from the school’s research programs: Experiment and explore your options. Take time to try creative new approaches and see what happens.

As opposed to doing it Seattle style, and assuming that such an important institution must be led by someone with a distinguished resume, and the only way to lure such a person is to offer a fortune. Plus a mansion, car allowance and golden pension plan.

What would be the harm in testing the waters by offering the job with a salary of, say, $300,000 a year? Plus the mansion, car and pension.

If it doesn’t work, they could always go back and dangle another treasure. The UW has plenty of administrators to keep the ship afloat during this experiment.

Emmert’s $905,000 annual pay — including a $620,000 salary — was the second highest among U.S. university presidents.

It put him in the salary leagues of Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer ($665,883 salary) and Starbucks’ Howard Schultz ($643,594) and well above Costco Chief Executive Jim Sinegal’s salary of $350,000. They’ve also got stock, of course, but public servants should be motivated by other dividends.

Besides, with schools cutting back all over – layoffs at the UW alone are approachng 1,000 people — it’s an employers’ market.

Who knows — maybe the UW could even convince one of the area’s philanthropic, semi-retired corporate leaders and education advocates to take the job for almost nothing, except maybe that mansion.

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