Recently released government data reveals that college officials are among the highest-paid public employees in Virginia. 80 percent of the state’s top earners work at a university or college.
According to data published by the Richmond-Times Dispatch, a large portion of Virginia’s highest-paid government employees work in academia. In fact, approximately 80 percent of the state’s top earners work at a university or college.
The highest-paid government employee in Virginia is Michael Rao, who earns approximately $1 million annually in his role as the president of Virginia Commonwealth University. James E. Ryan, the president of the University of Virginia trails just behind Rao, earning $962,875 each year.
Many of the state’s top earners are in academia, specifically in the role of university president. Timothy D. Sands, the president of Virginia Tech, for example, earns $775,000 annually.
Tracy Vosburgh, a campus spokeswoman for Virginia Tech, defended Sands’ substantial earnings in a comment to The College Fix. Vosburgh argued that Sands has played a role in bringing economic and job growth to their area of the state.
“This list shows that Virginia Tech has attracted among the nation’s best in a few key positions at the highest level. The leadership at Virginia Tech has played a key role in the growth and economic stability of Roanoke and the region, the successful bid to bring Amazon and vital job growth to Northern Virginia and has positioned the university and the region in a strong position to educate and prepare the next generation in Virginia,” Vosburgh said.
Laura Osberger, a spokeswoman for the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, told The College Fix that these high salaries are justified. Osberger argued that college presidents are responsible for “billion-dollar enterprises” and thus deserve high salaries.
“College presidents manage multi-million and sometimes billion-dollar enterprises that affect the lives of thousands of people. Thus, college and university compensation is a factor of a competitive market and complex work. In Virginia, the Boards of Visitors of our public higher education institutions negotiate the compensation packages of presidents,” Osberger said.
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