Hitt earns $800K, No. 4 in nation
Published: Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 14:04
On April 3, The Chronicle of Higher Education released its annual study on the pay and benefits of public-university executives. Gracing the list as fourth-highest earner by total cost of employment for the 2009-2010 fiscal year is our very own John Hitt.
The Chronicle's study separated all the presidents' pay into two categories: total compensation and total cost of employment.
The total compensation figure represents the actual amount of pay collected including base pay, bonuses and deferred compensation actually collected during the year. In this department, Hitt was No. 9 on the list at $673,500.
The total cost of employment category represents base pay, bonuses and all the money set aside by both the university and the state for the president. Here, Hitt ranks fourth at $800,703, which includes the aforementioned $673,500.
However, this second category is where payment gets tricky. University presidents are given contracts that include deferred compensation, which is paid out over several years as long as the president keeps with his or her contract long enough to earn it. This figure is included in the total cost of employment category but it may not actually be given to the president.
Hitt has been our president since 1992 and since then our admission rates have doubled while our enrollment standards have simultaneously risen, he has created a medical school and he has improved the campus in general with amenities such as a new football stadium and more on-campus housing.
Because of all his accomplishments, Hitt has received several bonuses during his 19 years as president and now he's reached the level where he's the highest earning college official in the state of Florida. It's not like we're just throwing Hitt money he doesn't deserve. In fact, the university has found a way to combat that.
According to the article in the Chronicle, Hitt's pay is tied with his performance. If Hitt doesn't meet the university's goals in terms of fundraising, improving admissions and increasing degree production then he actually loses money.
In fact, in the 2010-2011 fiscal year Hitt was denied close to $70,000 in potential earnings for not meeting the university's standards in these categories.
It's a good thing that Hitt is forced to work hard and perform well in order to earn his pay, but at the same time this man is making a lot of money, even more than Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer who reins in $141,521.
Our university has seen budget cuts left and right and it was only last month that UCF's Board of Trustees approved yet another fee increase. We can't ignore everything Hitt has done for our university but if fees and tuition keep increasing and programs keep being cut then potential students may look elsewhere.
Some of the university presidents in the Chronicle's study realized that with their respective universities struggling to combat budget cuts it only seemed fair to give some back. To our knowledge, Hitt hasn't done anything like this but it would be nice for him to exhibit some personal sacrifice for the university he governs — it's not like he can't afford it.
Hitt's pay includes housing and car allowances so with those two major necessities covered, most of his salary can be spent on luxury items. You would think that if our university is experiencing budget cuts, then our president would be, too.
We understand that it has to be a lot of work governing a university with more than 56,000 students, but when it comes to planning the university's spending, Hitt's salary shouldn't take precedent over providing students with low tuition and fees.