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UT President Generously Asks For $750k Salary Out Of Sensitivity To Students

The new president at the University of Texas’s flagship Austin campus has rejected an offered $1 million salary, saying it is too extravagant for the president of a public university in a time of rising tuition and budget constraints.

Gregory Fenves was officially chosen as UT-Austin’s newest president last month, and the school originally offered to start him off with a seven-figure pay package. Fenves, however, said no.

“[$1 million] is too high for a public university,” Fenves said in an email obtained by the Austin American-Statesman through a public records request. Fenves suggested the huge sum could provoke a political backlash as well.

“With many issues and concerns about administrative costs, affordability and tuition, such a salary will affect the ability of the president to work with the Texas Legislature on matters important to the university,” he said.

Fenves doesn’t necessarily warrant tremendous accolades, however. His actual salary of $750,000 is still well above the average for public university presidents. In addition, he receives about $50,000 in deferred pay (which can be lost if he leaves UT early) and can receive a 10 percent performance bonus (down from a 12 percent bonus that was originally offered). His compensation is also a boost from that enjoyed by previous president Bill Powers, who had a base compensation of $624,350.

Nonetheless, Fenves will be earning substantially less than some of his peers. Michael Young, the newly-hired president of Texas A&M, has a total annual compensation of $1.4 million, and University of Houston chancellor Renu Khator reels in $1.1 million. Bill McRaven, who serves as chancellor of the entire UT system, has a salary of $1.2 million with big six-figure retention bonuses.

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