Who’s Got My Money: UA President Rodriguez’s Salary Too High
Overall, I have enjoyed my years here at the University at Albany. It may seem like I don’t at times but this was, and still is, my first choice school. However, if there’s one thing our administration has me constantly scratching my head about, it’s how we spend our money. This past week, a new concern was brought to my attention, one which affects us all: the salary of SUNY presidents, specifically UAlbany’s President Havidan Rodriguez.
Judging by the reactions I’ve gotten, many of you are unaware that Rodriguez earns an annual salary of $525,000, along with a number of other benefits adding up to over $5,000 more a month, according to the Times Union. That, according to Upstate New York.com, is enough to make our president the fifth highest paid government official in all of Upstate New York. Ahead of him, and immediately after him, are the likes of hospital administrators and the SUNY school system’s chancellor. Rodriguez makes almost $100,000 more than the next official of an individual SUNY college, SUNY Buffalo’s Provost Charles F. Zukoski. Compare this to the median Albany Capital Region salary of $55,000, $4,000 less than the national medium. My biggest question here is simple: why?
Conversely, Deborah F. Stanley, president of SUNY Oswego, makes only around $220,000 a year. I’ve been to Oswego, spent time in their dorms, their facilities, seen their classrooms and ate their food. In those regards, Oswego decimates UAlbany, and that would shock an Oswego student as much as it might you.
I lived my whole sophomore year in Colonial Quad’s Delancey Hall. My room, along with every other room, didn’t even have an overhead light. We had to bring lights or study by oil lamp, the latter somehow being more practical considering we couldn’t bring extension cords and there was a distinct shortage of electrical outlets. As always, the school is slow to address student concerns, quick to hand out parking tickets.
If Rodriguez made the same salary as Stanley, could we not use that $300,000 to install much needed amenities like lights or ATMs, proper air conditioning, more parking? Even if we cut $200,000 from his half a million dollar check, would that not go a long way in supplying necessary benefits to the student body?
It costs UAlbany students around $25,000 a year to attend, and live at, this school. That means it takes the entire combined yearly tuition and room and board of 21 UAlbany students just to pay the salary of the school’s president. Imagine that? Twenty-one individuals are currently taking out loans and going into eternal, crushing debt with the government, paying not for an education, but for the high salary of one other individual. That’s 21 tuitions not going into the school as a whole, not improving our living situations, not improving our general education.
I am not ridiculous enough to suggest Rodriguez make nothing for his services. If you do a job, you deserve to get paid for it. What I cannot understand is why Rodriguez makes so much more money than his contemporaries — why he is among the highest paid officials in New York this side of Manhattan. Why are the only people making money comparable to Rodriguez the ones running hospitals where people’s lives are at stake on a daily basis, and where, even there, a great number are able to pay for their stay using insurance? We don’t have insurance in college. We go into debt, we pay, we pay back or there goes our credit. The very least we should expect is that our money is being used in the right way.