John McLaughlin's Fairy Tale About The Professor With A $1.5 Million Salary

 The McLaughlin Group  is chugging along into its fourth decade, with Pat Buchanan and John McLaughlin still shouting over Eleanor Clift every Sunday. On today's episode, the panel discussed the rising cost of a college education.

McLaughlin offered to bring "a little documentation" to the discussion by highlighting compensation for professors at private colleges and universities:

"The average pay in these institutions is now over $100,000 for a professor, although one professor at Stevenson University in Maryland makes $1,491,655 annually," McLaughlin said.

Buchanan chuckled as McLaughlin read this number, and understandably so. A professor at a small private university with a $1.5 million salary seems outlandish.

The person whom McLaughlin was referring to is Kevin J. Manning. The New York Times reported in December: "Kevin J. Manning at Stevenson University in Maryland earned $1,491,655 -- 16.1 times as much as the pay and benefits of the average full professor there."

But Manning isn't a Stevenson professor; he's the president of the university. And that $1.5 million figure isn't his annual salary.

Here's the full reference to Stevenson from the Times, whose story was based on a study by The Chronicle of Higher Education that analyzed compensation for private-college presidents:

While the typical president earned 3.7 times as much as the average pay and benefits of a full professor at the same institution, the study found great variations. Kevin J. Manning at Stevenson University in Maryland earned $1,491,655 -- 16.1 times as much as the pay and benefits of the average full professor there.

The Chronicle's write-up of its study brings more clarity to the subject. It reported that $1.1 million of Manning's compensation in 2009 was from a deferred payout that had accrued over nine years:

Stevenson University bears the distinction of the campus with the greatest income disparity between professors and their president. In 2009, Kevin J. Manning's $1.5-million in compensation was 16.1 times the average compensation for a full professor at Stevenson, which is located just outside Baltimore.

Mr. Manning declined interview requests, but university officials provided The Chronicle with a memo distributed to board members in anticipation of the release of the compensation survey. Kevin G. Byrnes, the board's chairman, notes in the memo that Mr. Manning's $1.5-million compensation for 2009 includes a deferred-compensation payout of $1.1-million, which accumulated over nine years.


In 2008, before the deferred-compensation payout, Mr. Manning earned $623,437, which was still about seven times that of the average full professor.

It's worth having a conversation about compensation levels for college administrators and faculty, but there's no place in it for exaggerated anecdotes that lend credence to the idea that professors are fat cats with million-dollar salaries.

To sum up: Wrong! Next issue!

Media Matters / By Todd Gregory

Posted at February 27, 2012, 7:48am

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