Why isn’t ASU’s Michael Crowe taking a pay cut?

The universities are complaining about budget cuts, but do you see any of the top-paid administrators volunteering to cut their own overinflated salaries? President Michael Crowe makes $475,000/yr, even more than the median salary for public sector university presidents of $427,400. 100% of that salary comes from taxpayer funding. Crowe is mandating 10 days unpaid leave for all university employees, and 15 days unpaid leave for the fat cats like himself. You do the math. This is only a temporary drop in the bucket for him, he’s only going to make $447,610 this year instead without those 15 extra days. He’ll still make more money this year than the average public university president.

ASU isn’t even a top-tier public university (although University of Arizona is). It’s not in the top 50 public universities, it’s ranked #60. Not sure why Crowe deserves a salary so high.

The Arizona Republic lists the top-paid employees at ASU, UA, and NAU. ASU has 16 employees alone who make over $300,000/yr. The head of the Institute of Sustainability, whatever that is (oh yeah, it’s the new disguised term for environmentalism), makes $310,500. The Biodesign Institute Director, a position that would be better handled in the private sector, makes $456,825. Likewise, the Biomedical Informatics Director makes $330,000. The Provost/Vice-Provost – sounds like a glorified secretary – makes $385,000. The business school finance chair makes $326,482. One professor alone at the business school makes $301,001. The Senior Vice-President makes $313,857. The Exec. VP & Finance makes $320,882. Someone from the “School of Materials,” whatever that is, makes $301,790. The VP of athletics makes $325,306. You can guess who makes the most money – yep, the head football coach who tops a million coming in at $1,275,000.

This is a PUBLIC university, not the private sector. These salaries are outrageous considering they’re being paid by taxpayers, and considering the state of the budget currently. These fat cats should be offering to halve their salaries. $237,500 is plenty generous for a PUBLIC university president. If it’s not enough, there is always the option to take a job in the private sector instead, or find a private source of grants to supplement your salary, like other overpaid public university presidents do. It was reported last fall in the New York Times that salaries of presidents at public universities are climbing faster than salaries of presidents at private universities – even though there is no justification for this.

“It’s surprising that many public universities are raising their presidents’ salaries,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, who has been prodding universities for more accountability in spending and greater commitment to affordability. “In these hard economic times, apparently belt-tightening is for families and students, not university presidents.”

After the report came out, some of the overpaid presidents voluntarily took a substantial decrease in their annual pay.

The president of Washington State University, Elson S. Floyd, who made $600,000 in his first year at the university and received a $125,000 raise over the summer, said he would take a voluntary $100,000 pay cut in response to budget problems.

We did not hear about any of the Arizona University presidents doing this. (If they did, please let us know and we will correct the record, but we could find nothing on the web about them taking a permanent substantial salary cut)

10 days unpaid leave to an ASU employee making $25,000/yr would be devastating. That’s almost $1000 – the equivalent of having to come up with an additional month’s rent, and when you live from paycheck to paycheck, it could easily get someone behind on a mortgage or rent.

Crowe and the other university fat cats should be ashamed of themselves, and do what other public university presidents around the nation are doing and cut their overinflated salaries if they want to save university funding. The president of UA makes $420,000. The President of NAU makes $300,000.


  1. Glad to see Sonoran Alliance concerned about all the little people. Maybe we should have been giving low-paid state workers a raise during the past few years.

    I don’t know what Crow should be making (didn’t he give back a $60K bonus) and certainly university president salaries have gotten out of control, but I do know there is some info you left out that is available in the Republic database if one looks at the details.

    Head of Biodesign salary paid by state – 0%
    Dean of Engineering Salary paid by state – 0%
    Head Coach Football paid by state – 0%
    Head Coach Men’s Basketball paid by state – 0%
    Head Coach Women’s Basketball paid by state – 0%
    V Pres University Athletics paid by state – 0%

    So at least some of these salaries don’t even come from state money.

    I also find the tone interesting – you don’t know what the school of materials is so clearly it is some garbage department right? Materials Science is probably one of the most important areas for advance of future technology – nanotechnology, bio engineering, smart materials – sorry you are ignorant about this area but an expert in this field could make much more than the $300K a year. A Provost is a overblown secretary – now that is funny, or just plain ignorant, depending on whether you were joking or not.

  2. Goodyear GOP says

    Crow makes nearly $800k per year.

  3. Can't Recall My Clever Pseudonym says

    I find it hard to reconcile the AZ constitution’s “idea of a university” and “education” with what modern ASU has become. What is universal about today’s state universities? Why on earth should taxpayers pay tuition for students in a trade school which educates “experts” that turn around and make $300k a year?

    What doctors and nurses deliver is visible and measureable. The rest is a tough sell to the public.

  4. Who pays for the benefits, the country club, the office, the car allowance and bonuses?

  5. azcowpoke1,
    I don’t know – why don’t you find out and let us know.

  6. Can’t Recall My Clever Pseudonym,
    Let’s face it – you just don’t like the idea of a public university. I see conservatives complain that the universities give degrees that are worthless in the job market and also complain that it give degrees which lead to salaries which are too high. People complain that the universities do research which has no societal value and then also complain it does research with too much value (hey – it should be done by the private sector).

    Doctors and nurses are visible but computer scientists, lawyers, psychologists, accountants, engineers, chemists, and, yes, even artists are not? Please.

  7. todd,
    Who does pay these salaries? Where does the money come from? Do taxpayers pay medical and retirement benefits? I think you do know.

  8. Veritas Vincit says

    I am reposting this for Todd’s edification and enlightenment…

    “The function of the university is to seek and to transmit knowledge and to train students in the process whereby truth is to be made known. To convert, or to make converts, is alien and hostile to this dispassionate duty.” [Robert Gordon Sproul, President University of California 1934. UC’s Academic Personnel Manual] – rewritten July 30, 2003 to reflect an “activist” point of view and omit the word ‘dispassionate’.

    The university exists only for the limited and distincitve purpose of teaching and research; it cannot take collective action on the issues of the day without endangering the conditions for its existence and effectiveness.

    This is the reason, that the State of Arizona should re-vist the bloated budget of its schools of ‘higher education’ and determine if this purpose is still being fulfilled by them or if they have become institutions of radical indoctrination.

    If so, then funding is to be cut 100% and a new system created.

  9. Can't Recall My Clever Pseudonym says

    Is there a difference between education and career training? I suggest there is, so I am happy that a public university does the first, with taxpayer money, but not happy about the second. Certainly people with educations also train for careers, but what about education for its own sake? Is that what the constitution is referring to? Or is the idea that the public should pay for smart people to become doctors and lawyers, and that not-smart people should go to welding school or bus driver training? And who should pay for that?

  10. What does the Sonoran Alliance think of free market capitalism? The market has determined what these people, especially Mr. Crowe, makes, hasn’t it? Wouldn’t prescribing a salary reak of socialism?

  11. Perhaps it is time to look into Hb1 visa applicants. I have heard there are great savings to be mined.

  12. Walt S – my assumption is that the salaries that are not paid by the state are paid by endowments, donations, or revenue from the sports programs. As far as benefits, insurance and the like, I have no idea how those are paid or who pays for them. This info isn’t on the Republic website.

  13. Veritas Vincit ,
    I don’t believe the schools have become institutions of radical indoctrination, but if you do you are more than free to try and show that. I don’t see what this has to do with the issues in this post.

  14. Can’t Recall My Clever Pseudonym,
    I agree that educations primary purpose should not be job training and I don’t like to see them thought of that way, but at the same time the public universities need to show that the degrees they give out are worth something or else they will face even more hostility. Does the public want to pay for the same education that someone receives at a small, private liberal arts college. That would be great but I don’t ever see the public willing to invest that much.

  15. Matt S. ,
    You are absolutely right, and looking into this I discovered that Crow’s bonuses and raises are tied to specific, measurable deliverable determined by the Board of Regents. Compare this to the private sector in which executives seem to be completely separate from performance, for instance the ones that receive multi-million dollar bonuses while sending their companies into bankruptcy.

  16. Veritas Vincit says

    Todd, the market has nothing to do with salaries at ASU, the well honed skills of the lobbyists are to credit. And, if you ever took an economics course in your educational past, you might know that the sports program at ASU is a money looser once you deduct the “donations” made by former alumni.

    Notice, if you care to do the research, that upon the entry of the Federal government into higher education (through PEL grants and federal student loans) the cost of higher education curve did a near 90 run upwards. Go plot it for yourself.

    If education was so expensive, then why in the h*ll does India do it so well for so much less? Just an example off the top… oh, and do the various “(fill in here) Studies” programs really contribute to a medical education? Didn’t think so…

    Higher education (you should read the Chronicle of Higher Education sometime) is bloated and highly overpaid for the product delivered.

  17. College students should be given vouchers for college education with their value being the current difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition. The universities could then charge full tuition to everyone with the vouchers effectively giving Arizona students in-state tuition rates. In addition, the vouchers would be usable at private colleges and universities in Arizona as well as community colleges.

    To provide cost saving incentives, unused value of the vouchers could be rolled over for graduate or professional school in Arizona. This would reward those frugal when pursuing a bachelors degree with financial assistance for graduate school. Perhaps they could also have an option to cash out for half or two thirds the value of the unused vouchers once getting a bachelors degree. This is a way to provide cost cutting incentives for students not anticipating graduate studies. Vouchers would have to be conditioned on successful progress toward a degree.

    To make sure the education is properly valued and that students demand value for the money being spent, some of the voucher money could be shifted to low interest loans payable as an income tax surcharge until paid off (based on Federal Income Tax and for students who leave the state as well). This would also reduce the problem of lower income people who don’t go to college subsidizing people who do go to college and get higher incomes.

    This would actually create an education market in higher education (albeit subsidized by vouchers) where it would make sense to discuss market rates of compensation for higher education faculty and staff. Currently, in Arizona, we have a socialist (government owned and operated) system that makes accurate pricing almost impossible. If is also impossible to let the market determine optimum campus size and location because the decisions are centrally managed with little or no market constraints.

  18. Veritas Vincit ,

    This article is talking about very specific examples not the whole education system of the US. It made mistaken claims and revealed an ignorance of certain areas. I pointed these out. I am really not interested in arguing about the whole higher education system of the US.

  19. Veritas Vincit says

    Todd, I understand. However, the CEO of ASU’s salary was the topic and as such, his remuneration is endemic of the overall abysmal conditions of higher education in our country today.

    As CEO of ASU and being paid handsomely for his efforts, Mr. Crowe is quite responsible for allowing his faculty to offer class credits to students who elected to take a day off from school for the cultural enrichment exercise of conducting a temper tantrum at the Legislature over spending cuts. In effect, Mr Crowe used students as a resource to apply political pressure on the legislature. Tsk, Tsk Mr Crowe… is that what the taxpayer wants you to do?

  20. kralmajales says

    Sorry, but the salaries of college Presidents are far less than CEOs who do far less. You have no idea what a college President must do. Huge pressure to raise private dollars (and Crow had delivered hands down in that arena), pressure to work with state and local governments, pressure to work with industry, the need to build and maintain research facilities that attract industry and federal dollars to the state.

    Let’s face it. Universities are both there for the public good of educating the citiznery as Thomas Jefferson spent his life arguing for. They also create economic development though also. Look what the California system has brought in dollars and company spin-offs.

    Last, there is a direct correlation between education level and earnings. There is a direct correlation between an educated workforce and economic development.

    Our business leaders know this and it has taken this long for them to finally tell folks like the conservatives on this list to shut the heck up.

  21. kralmajales says

    OH…and Veritas…

    Those studnets protesting are paying more and more for their education because of the willy nilly ideological ideals that so many here treasure. As the costs go up to them, they are going to hand it to you. And parents, can you really save that much to send your kids to college.

    With each drop in state support, there is an increase in tuition. It freezes out many from educational opportunity. That very engine that this former conservative valued above all. The ability to have a chance to pull yourself up from poverty. There is no better way to do that than education.

    I am living proof. I came from a total household income of $18K. My mom, brother and I. I had to take loans to get to college. I worked summers and during the year when the rich kids didn’t have to. We were all in it together though and I learned from them as they learned from me. I took federal grants, I took federal subsidized loans, I took every opportunity I could find to get out of poverty. And then, I did it. Hard work, As, and my income is now $80K a year. It was from hard work and YES a set of opportunities in this country that gave me a chance.

    You want to rob others from this? Not over my dead body!!!!

  22. Veritas Vincit says

    Let’s start with paragraph 1 post #20 above:

    Crowe has an army of subordinates who supervise another army of individuals who actually do that work kralmajles describes. When taken in total, that army costs the taxpayers a handsome sum of money. Perhaps if Crowe were responsible to actually DO those tasks himself, maybe his salary wouldn’t seem so unreasonable.

    Paragraph 2 post #20 … nice sounding macro statements. How about some specifics? I worked in economic development in California WITH the UC Regents.

    The purpose of a University is to teach students how to learn and how to acquire knowledge in their chosen field. When a University spends more on “soft” subjects and “activist oriented” activities than on solid academics, then that university should be subject to public audit and review.

    kralmajales, may I ask (since you elected self-disclosure), is your employment in the private sector or public sector?

    Am I to be impressed by your last paragraph? I worked my way through undergraduate and graduate school; debt free and a private university at that.

    kralmajales, might I suggest some research? Have a look at the cost of a college education *before* the federal government got in the game and see what happened to the cost *after* the massive introcuction of PEL Grants and Student Loans.

    My beef with ASU is that a goodly portion of the budget is bloated and an equally goodly portion of the campus activity has little to do with hard knowledge or learning and too much to do with activism and the politics of change.

  23. I’ve been working in higher education as an instructor, full-time and part-time, and an administrator, since 1975. Arizona has one of the weakest higher education systems in the nation, and that’s why the best and brightest students go elsewhere unless they absolutely cannot afford it, in which case they go to Barrett Honors College (a great school) at ASU or the equivalent honors college at U of A.

    It is very bizarre to me to see in a supposedly conservative state why there are only three gigantic state universities, why ASU is so large (I taught there – making $3,000 a course teaching composition courses as a faculty associate in 2000-01) and why the Polytechnic and West campuses are not separate schools. Decentralization would be superior; I’d think both liberals and conservatives could agree on that. Why is ASU so bloated? I’d be interested in hearing the reason for this.

    Also, the for-profit University of Phoenix sucks a lot of the air out of the system. I won’t go into their quality or their legal troubles here, but anyone can read about it if they’re interested. There is not vigorous competition for non-profit education. The giant Phoenix metro area doesn’t have a good private research university or a small liberal arts college or a Catholic college (Arizona is one of the few states that doesn’t have one), etc.

    In Arizona, out of every 100 ninth-graders, only nine will receive a college degree. Arizona ranks 43rd in the nation in percentage of high school graduates who go directly to college. The state ranks near the bottom on most rankings at all educational levels, and in the intermountain West, other states (Colorado, Utah, Montana) have superior systems of public higher education.

  24. Outstanding Doc! When i had been just simply thinking that that there’s a whole lot fallacious facts and techniques on this matter and you also simply transformed our feeling. Reading through a pleasurable document.

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