Cornell Prez Heading Out

Cornell President David Skorton, who has held the position since 2006, was named the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute. He will be the first physician in charge at the Smithsonian. Skorton’s shipping out from Ithaca at the end of the next school year, starting at the Institute in July 2015—so he’ll be around for Cornell’s sesquicentennial (150, guys).

Skorton got to Cornell with a bang in 2006, living in a freshman dorm and getting his own ice cream flavor. He was, by all accounts, a jazzy dude. In the seriousness realm, he’s tried ending hazing and scored Cornell its very own NYC tech campus.

We can’t imagine why Skorton would want to leave Cornell (OK we can, it’s because Ithaca), but in this last year we hope to see an increase in jazz shows and idealism. If you catch Skorton up to anything fun, drop us a line.

Outgoing Brown President Ruth Simmons Taking Her Talents (Back) to Princeton

Generally beloved Brown president Ruth Simmons announced last September that this year would be her last at the helm of the university, and since then there has been a lingering question: What is the next move for someone as accomplished as Simmons?

We now have at least part of an answer. Simmons will swing some of her energy back to Princeton, where she was previously a vice provost in the early 90s, to serve a four year term on the university’s Board of Trustees. Simmons is the only non-Princeton graduate of the seven new trustees announced Tuesday, but does hold an honorary degree from the school.

While it is unlikely Simmons was planning for this position in September, it will be interesting to see where her focus now lies. In her original email to the Brown community announcing her plans, Simmons wrote that she hoped to take a leave to “take up projects that have been on hold far too long,” before returning to teach at Brown. While we can’t claim to know how much of a commitment being a trustee at Princeton is (still waiting for that phone call), it’s probably not just a line on her CV. Add to that her duties already as a member of the Howard University Board of Trustees, and Simmons should have an interesting balancing act between the three institutions. However, if any former Ivy president can handle it, it’s probably the one with the 80-percent approval.

Dartmouth Prez Discourages Humanities, Encourages Reality Check

In a video on leadership recently recorded for the Washington Post, Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim takes a rather dismissive tone towards the wishy-washy Humanities:

“You are not going to make it in this world if you study philosophy…you have to get a skill… I find myself giving that advice to my student today… When you go to Haiti, when you go to Africa, they don’t ask you “how much do you feel for my people” or “how much have you studied my people.” They say: “Have you brought anything?”

The ever-practical Kim knows what he’s talking about: he and Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health is one of the world’s great AIDS success stories. Whether or not you agree with his somewhat damning assessment of the Humanities, the video itself is laden with insights, and comes highly recommended. Dartmouth, you have one hell of a prezClick here for Washington Post video. See below for leaderly shimmying.

Some College Presidents Feel Guilty, Return Some Money

College and university presidents are well-compensated, and, perhaps, rightly so. Like the CEOs of large corporations, they are responsible, chiefly, for the maintaining and generating of income. So with a down year for endowments, and a budget-constrained future ahead, it’s no surprise that several have opted to forgo raises or to return a portion of their salaries back to the schools they helm.

For some who have gone this route, this outward show of generosity smells like a reactionary PR move more than else. Last Tuesday, the day after The Chronicle of Higher Education published its annual survey of presidential salaries, “Amy Gutmann, the president of the University of Pennsylvania, and her husband made a $100,000 gift to the university to support undergraduate research.”

Do these donations suggest that that college presidents are overcompensated? Maybe – but maybe not. Except for the president of Suffolk University, who earns a whopping $2.8 million dollars a year for manning a school that no one outside Boston has ever heard of, presidential salaries are roughly equivalent to their for-profit counterparts. And they are much lower than the robber barons, i.e. the heads of investment banks, that are largely responsible for crippling our economy.

Dear Amy, et al.: instead of returning your tax-deductible chump change, how about keeping annual tuition raises at, or under, the rate of inflation?

Ivy Presidents Make More Than You, But Less Than Peers

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently released its annual survey of college presidential pay, and – surprise, surprise – in 2006-7, Ivy League presidents ranked among the nation’s top earners. Of the Ancient Eight, Columbia’s Lee Bollinger topped the list, receiving a whopping $1,411,894 in pay and benefits, followed by Amy Gutmann (Penn) with $1,088,786; Richard Levin (Yale) with $955,407; Ruth Simmons (Brown) with $775,718; Shirley Tilghman (Princeton) with $742,444; David Skorton (Cornell) with $730,604; and James Wright (Dartmouth) with $569,761. (Derek Bok, who was the interim president at Harvard that year, earned $0.)

Nevertheless, only Bollinger and Gutmann cracked the private school top ten, coming in at fourth and eighth places respectively. (For whatever reason, the Chronicle places private and public school executives in distinct categories; combine the lists together and Bollinger falls to fifth, and Gutmann, to tenth.)

If the highest salaries and benefits aren’t going to Ivy presidents, then to whom do they go? Find out (the rather surprising results) after the jump.

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Dartmouth Prez James Wright, Oldest Dude in the Ivy League, Steps Down

Dartmouth Prez James Wright, Oldest Dude in the Ivy League, Steps DownAfter a tempestuous reign as 16th King of Dartmouth, James Wright announces his retirement with a “profound sense of humility.” This is probably because he’s main claim to fame is being the fuddy dud who tried to expel the frats — and failed.
Daniel Belkin ’08 explains all.

Amid intense anticipation within alumni circles and enough student apathy to match, President Jim Wright gave the Dartmouth Board of Trustees his two week – er, 16 month – notice. After 11 years as the College’s Main Man, President Wright has decided that he is no longer Mr. Right to steer the Big Green into the next decade. “As much as I enjoy serving Dartmouth in my current role, I believe that every institution can benefit from periodic new leadership and fresh ideas,” he commented on Monday.

His tenure in Hanover has been peppered with Clinton-level controversies (only with much less sexual innuendo). In 1999, taking a page out of Dean Wormer’s playbook, the Administration unveiled the “Student Life Initiative” – a.k.a. the War on Fun – that aimed to close down Frat Row. Obviously, this threw the College into a tizzy. The joint retaliating forces of undergrad boozehounds and alumni with deep pockets carried the day in the end. Recently, Wright became the human punching bag-of-choice for shadowy cabals of alarmist alumni hollering that their beloved “College on the Hill” had devolved into a cold and heartless Harvard-on-the-Connecticut-River. And the brouhaha following the Board’s September decision to expand itself by eight-seats (and dilute the power of alumni-elected trustees) spilled onto the broadsheets of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

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Following the Leaders: Presidents of Brown and Princeton Better than Actual President

Following the Leaders: Presidents of Brown and Princeton Better than Actual PresidentA sad day for journalism when Glamour scoops US News & World Report on the upper education beat, but it happened this month when the former jumped on the “Every crowd around the pretty lady presidents!” bandwagon first. Yesterday’s release of US News‘ “America’s Best Leaders”  echoes Glamour‘s 2007 “Women of the Year” featuring Prezettes Ruth Simmons (Brown) and Shirley Tilghman (Princeton). In USN Simmons and Tilghman sit among notable peoples like Nancy Pelosi, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nicholas Kristof and Yo-Yo Ma.

Conspicuously missing from the list are fellow “Women of the Year” Drew Gilpin Faust (president, Harvard) and Amy Gutmann (Fairy Jihad-Mother, Penn), whose mere existence as double-X-chromosomed heads of Ivies is usually reason enough to split Simmons’ and Tilghman’s glory four ways.

Because Nothing Says ‘Glamour’ Like Fairy Jihad-Mother

Because Nothing Says 'Glamour' Like Fairy Jihad-MotherWe’re already salivating for the December issue of Glamour magazine, featuring all four female Ivy League presidents as 2007 Women of the Year.

Prince and DP reports confirm that The Prezettes — Princeton’s Shirley Tilghman, Brown’s Ruth Simmons, Harvard’s Drew Gilpin Faust, and Penn’s Halloween- and maybe-Jihad-loving Amy Gutmann — will appear in glossy photos alongside the likes of Jennifer Garner, Elizabeth Edwards, and child actress Abigail Breslin. Gutmann has already begun denying the fact that she’s totally pumped to get airbrushed:

Though Gutmann doesn’t “have much time to read magazines like Glamour,” she said she is pleased that the magazine will use the Fund to raise money for charities that support causes for women.

Whatevs, Amy, we know you’re excited to get a professional blow-out and glossy photos, and for little girls the world around to cut out your picture and decorate their notebooks with it. For those who can’t wait to see if the Gutbomb reprises her strapless red Homecoming dress, fear not! IvyGate will be there for you on November 13 when Women of the Year hits newsstands.

The Great Ivy League Presidential Salary Penis Contest of Fiscal 2004-’05

The Great Ivy League Presidential Salary Penis Contest of Fiscal 2004-'05

The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s annual report on executive compensation is in, and there you have it, in primary colors: former Cornell president Jeff Lehman can buy and sell your president before lunch, with enough left over for 375 PlayStation 3’s.

Lehman banked $1,004,034 in Ithaca dollars, mind you, further raising the cost-of-living premium over suckers like Larry Summers (sniff) and Lee Bollinger. James Wright of Dartmouth was the big loser, unable to crack the half-mil barrier; in the co-ed, towel-snapping locker room of Ivy presidents past and present, he’s the one changing beneath a towel.

Cue ominous music: But what price victory, Jeff? The Sun reported last month that a chunk of Lehman’s payout was hush money, to keep him from blabbing about the controversy surrounding his departure.

Moving on, there’s more fun to be had with the Chronicle‘s data, especially in the expense account category. We don’t know why Wright and Ruth Simmons are listed as having $0 at their disposal; we do know that it’s kinda funny Bollinger gets to blow a full fifth of Wright’s entire salary on hookers and goofballs. And poor Dick Levin! Twelve thousand dollars a year? Someone get this man a financial aid package!

The Great Ivy League Presidential Salary Penis Contest of Fiscal 2004-'05 

Gutmann Halloween Flap: Media Round-Up

Gutmann Halloween Flap: Media Round-UpEver since posing for a Halloween photo with a student dressed as a suicide bomber, Penn President Amy Gutmann has been getting star treatment from the Ivy League watchdog cottage industry. Congrats, Amy, you’re famous! Here’s a quick rundown:  

  • The New York Post naturally takes the prize for most creative headline, “DITZY IVY PREXY H’WEEN BALL BOMBS.”
  • The Weekly Standard puts on a frowny face: “The images are, in fact, disturbingly familiar: Sympathizers of suicide-bombers in the Middle East routinely show solidarity with their ‘freedom fighters’ by dressing children up in the same type of costumes, complete with plastic dynamite and fake AK-47s.”
  • The Jerusalem Post is not psyched about Saadi calling himself a “freedom martyr.” 
  • See the Daily Pennsylvanian for an account that actually acknowledges that the costume was meant to be a joke. Saad Saadi, the student in the photo, says he regrets the photo, but not the costume. Is that one of those “I’m sorry you’re offended” apologies? The piece quotes Anti-Defmation League official Barry Morrison: “No right-thinking individual ought to go around in [this] costume unless [he or she] is a suicide bomber or wants to be one.”
  • The DP also runs a full-length interview with Saadi: “It’s the same as dressing up as anything scary.”
  • Gutmann also apologizes in a guest opinion column, noting that at a party featuring ax murderers, “It’s hard to imagine that someone could create an actually offensive costume, but at least one of our students did.”

Honestly? Unless you’re going as a Katrina refugee named Terri Schiavo with a stingray sticking out of your chest that sends sexual IMs to Congressional pages … we’re not impressed.