How Many Janitors Is A College President Worth?

St. Mary’s College of Maryland is considering capping its president’s salary at 10 times that of its lowest-paid employees:

Currently for St. Mary’s, the ratio is 13-1 when comparing the president’s salary to that of the college’s lowest-paid employees. In this light, the proposal to cap the ratio at 10-1 is not as much a major cost-cutting effort as it is a push to further address questions of income inequality. The ratio at St. Mary’s is already more reasonable than it is in many corporations or even at other universities ($441,000 was the median compensation for public-college presidents in 2011, according to the Chronicle for Higher Education). Still, those behind the initiative believe it could improve more — and that it’s an important effort to keep the income gap from widening even further.

Ry Rivard puts the proposal in context:

By comparison, in the corporate world, the CEO at clothing retailer Gap, which Wednesday said it would raise the minimum wage for its employees, made 331 times more than its average worker, according to a 2013 analysis by Bloomberg. But St. Mary’s plan isn’t as equitable as the compensation scale Ben & Jerry’s once used, which didn’t allow executives to make any more than five times what an employee made.

The St. Mary’s proposal does more than just tie presidential pay to that of less well-compensated staff members. It also seeks to make sure all employees earn at least $29,976, which is 130 percent of the poverty level—enough to keep a family of four off food stamps.