Academic executives and presidents are being questioned over salary increases. Photo: CC, Pexels.
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Professors, buildings and the like will offer more for students

It’s not just Wall Street CEOs that are being put on notice. Academic executives at the University of Ottawa and Algonquin College have come under scrutiny after it was revealed that their salaries could be on the rise.

Proponents of this change argue that the pay raise is due for these executives, since they’ve been frozen for years. But that doesn’t necessarily mean these executives are due for a raise. Instead, we need ask if giving executives a raise is the best way to make the institution better off.

One argument is, simply, that it takes a certain kind of expertise to run a school and our society puts a higher value on this particular set of skills. The problem with this line of reasoning is that it’s hard to prove, and even harder to trust coming from the person who stands to make more money.

Also, the idea that you have a demanding job might go over better if you weren’t asking to get paid more than the current president of the United States, as some college presidents are.

The truth is that when it comes to salaries, money isn’t determined by skill so much as by negotiation.

With this in mind, the idea that the best way to improve these institutions is by ensuring that our executives and presidents are loaded is internally flawed.

This strategy means that you have already decided that a small number of people higher up on the food chain will make more positive change than a teacher or a new building.

While we’re on the topic, using the money to fund teachers and make their careers more stable is actually better for everyone. It’s obviously better for professors, and it’s also better for the institutions since they avoid costs related to high turnover rates.

The latter option may be played out and less flashy, but it’s also a lot more consistent than relying on a small group of people.

And let’s not forget that by using money to improve your school and staff, you’ll make the school better, and thus easier to run for those in charge.

If you do choose to focus on these kinds of unnecessary salary increases, you’ll be sending the message that extra money will do more good in the hands of the president than the teachers and other staff, inherently diminishing their value.

Opting to invest in resources like, professors, buildings, and other staff members, is much more appealing to them than compensating an executive, since student are much more likely to interact with the former than the latter.

No matter the economic health or academic ranking of the university, funding quality teaching and infrastructure is always the way to go to ensure a better experience for students.

Besides, if the institution is doing well, we need to recognize the contributions that teachers and other staff are making and reward them appropriately.

This is doubly important for an institution that is having money or ranking problems, like the U of O.

In other words, if you want to spend money to patch the hole in the ship, don’t simply hand the captain a bag of doubloons and expect the vessel to stay afloat.