Editor's note: This story was originally published on Nov. 18, 2012:
UCF has reached the point where the business of running the institution has become more important than the institution fulfilling its original purpose: for students to learn.
President John C. Hitt is expected to see a $26,500 raise this year, a 5.7 percent increase totaling $490,000 yearly. The Compensation and Labor Committee evaluation stated that Hitt has increased student enrollment significantly and has also expanded campus facilities and academic programs.
Hitt may have increased enrollment at the university, but with a hefty student population of more than 59,000, it is fair to say the increase has not all been beneficial. Professors such as Stanley Smith can attest to how the growth has negatively affected students in terms of instructional quality, fewer classes offered and the correlating consecutive hikes in tuition rates.
Smith likened UCF to a cereal company that has been selling the same product for years but putting less in the box. "UCF is operating now as a business, under the model that more is better. In todays capitalist-driven society, it is taboo to suggest that some institutions simply should not stand to turn a profit, and its not an impossible reality to imagine."
Hitt has been expected to make the changes he has, and he has done them well, despite the fact that learning is suffering alongside this growing population.
But what part of the career playbook explains why that same productivity is not correlated to the salaries of Florida's public school teachers, or its nurses and electricians and firefighters? We give teachers who facilitate tremendous growth in their students year after year a plaque and a pat on the back. Electricians and city workers who restore our power and clean up our streets after a hurricane blows through are not viewed as necessary until needed by many people and are barely compensated appropriately.
There is an extremely skewed value system engrained into the fabric of American society. It is one that lets individuals such as Hitt earn half a million per year for increasing a student population that UCF cannot effectively accommodate, yet sees $40,000 a year as a fit salary for the public school teachers who push said students to actually reach the college level and achieve academic excellence.
Of Hitt's salary, $200,000 comes from public funds, and there are hundreds of different programs, educators and areas of the university in which that money would be used more efficiently before going into Hitts pocket. Student protests should make Hitt think.
President Hitt, how much money do you really need to be comfortable? How much money is enough for you? Are you aware that the very same students who are tightening their belts and struggling to meet tuition increases are also juggling retail and service jobs in which they make $20,000 per year and don't complain? There is a disconnect between the messages Hitt sends as a leader of this university and the actions taken. It is time for things to change.