It stand to reason that if one noble man thinks $90,000 is a justifiable sacrifice to bolster the minimum wages of his employees then something is amiss.
The interim president of Kentucky State University is giving up $90,000 of his $350,000 annual salary to give workers on minimum wage, working on the campus, a raise. The federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 per hour but Raymond Burse will be raising that to $10.25 per hour. The increase will stay in effect even after Burse is replaced as interim by a full-time president.
This is a serious commitment to his employee’s needs and there are two thoughts that arise from this:
- Raymond Burse is a noble man who can afford to give up $90,000 of his $350,000 wage so does that mean that others in his situation could/ought to do the same?
- Raymond Burse clearly does not believe that minimum wage is enough to live off – is it?
This is not an isolated occurrence. The Chronicle of Higher Education shows a donation of more than $100,000 made by the president of Hampton University to raise minimum wage workers to $9 per hour. The president of Centenary College in Louisiana raised the pay of the 25 employees in line with the proposed minimum wage of $10.10 asked for by President Obama.
Although President Obama would like a $10.10 minimum wage to be standard across all states it is not being backed by state senates. Burse has commented that his actions are no publicity stunt, saying: ‘You don’t give up $90,000 for publicity. I did this for the people’. It is taking real sacrifices by certain individuals to bring about the changes the President and his college presidents believe is required.
‘I did this for the people’ is such a rare and honorable statement. It is also clearly possible to make a big change to some people’s lives. I have talked in length in previous blogs about the wages received by presidents in education. I refused to say for certain that they are paid too much for their position given the years of experience it takes them to reach that position and the natural scale of salary increase that goes hand in hand with responsibility.
However, if a few good noble men can apportion large chunks of their salary to the benefit of minimum wage workers then perhaps they have money to spare. The education system should be setting an example for the rest of the country to follow and in this case I think Burse is showing his peers exactly how they can do that.
Let’s hope the students under his charge are aware of his actions and appreciate his sacrifice for what it is: a symbol of hope and humanity that money making institutions seem to lack on the whole. There is hope for academics yet!