Speaking Out

'Tough All Over'

In its September 18 issue, The Daily Pennsylvanian reported, based on University tax records, that President Rodin's salary and benefit package rose 13.7% from FY96 to FY97 and that Vice President Fry's package increased an astronomical 22.4%. These increases came at a time when the rest of us had to adhere to a policy that called for 3% or 4% if we were lucky. This current year the numbers were reduced to 1% to 3% for a solid performance (see Almanac April 28 for the notice signed by Rodin/Fry).

Our management tells us that things are tough all over, that the University is in serious financial trouble due to the pressures created when tuition couldn't be raised as much as anticipated, and these are the realities of budget constraints.

Apparently, there are a select few for whom these constraints do not apply. If things are really tough all over, it becomes incumbent upon those in top management to be a partner with everyone else when telling us that our raises will be small until things become better. Participating themselves in the small raise policy would add to their credibility and be a real motivation for them to make things better for all of us. In addition, it would make it easier for us to accept the situation, to feel as though our efforts are still appreciated, and that we are not all replaceable parts. If we all were getting good raises, if things were not "tough all over," then they would deserve the big increases. But how tough can it be to squeeze the little guy, point to what's been squeezed, and then get big raises just for themselves from that?

Rodin is quoted as saying that her salary package is market driven. This is the same reason that Michael Jordan is worth $40,000,000 per year and a public school teacher is worth $40,000. It may be the way it is, but that doesn't make it right. But if the University is now going to pay people on market value, are we to believe that only the top university officials should be paid what the market bears? Are the rest of us schlock? Or do we just not matter to them very much?

Perhaps the most infuriating quote in the piece was from Fry who said "From the pure salary stuff, I don't think it's that high. I wish it was. (sic)" Where is he coming from? It's plenty high in dollars. While he may have deserved his FY96 salary, the disproportional percentage increase which was reported is out of balance to any sense of fairness and is totally outrageous.

--Rick Wexler Programmer/Analyst, ISC


Response to Mr. Wexler

As I informed the DP in a letter printed last week (see September 18 issue of The Daily Pennsylvanian), my views were not accurately presented in the DP's story on University salaries. I am well compensated by Penn and very grateful for it. It is a privilege to work here.

- -John A. Fry Executive Vice President

Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on University issues can be accepted

by Thursday at noon for the following Tuesday's issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines.

Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated.-Ed.

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 5, September 29, 1998