On the President of the University of New Mexico, Show Them the Money

Last time we talked about the role of the university president, and how universities are dashing out big bucks to get quality leaders.  The University of New Mexico is no different.

As shown earlier, the salaries of university presidents have spiked dramatically.  According to the Chronicle of Higher Education in a 2001 study,the highest paid university head as of 2002 was Judith Rodin of the University of Pennsylvania, who received a total of $808,021 in salary, bonuses, and benefits.  There were 27 presidents who earned more than $500,000 in 2001, which was double from the year before.  Median salaries for college presidents and vice presidents rose 5.3 percent in the same period.  Private colleges are raising their CEO’s salaries more than public colleges. (1)

At UNM, the salary as of 2002 was $218,802.  This is what was received then president F. Chris Garcia, and the same as preceding president William Gordon, who stepped down July 31, 2002.  This was in turn more than Gordon’s predecessor, Richard Peck, who left in 1998 with a salary of $189,900.  Gordon averaged about 15 percent more salary than under Peck.

Alas, even though this figure for UNM is in the six figures, and even though many university programs were underfunded or being cut, there is the simple fact that the salary at UNM is below the market rate.(2)  The median salary then was $243,360 for president of universities that granted doctoral degrees.  And since UNM is a “very complex” university with a hospital and medical school, the argument goes, it should be even higher.

Whether this is right or not doesn’t matter at the moment, for we have the market talking.  The market is what determines all university policy.  The market for college presidents is tighter, and the candidates are demanding higher salaries, according to consultant William Funk.  Regent David Archuleta stated “if we want them bad enough, I suppose, it’s whatever the market will bear.”  Chris Garcia stated similar things.  At any time there are about 30 to 40 colleges seeking presidents, and the numbers add up to a lot of money.

To compensate for this demand for university presidents a whole industry of presidential search firms have been created.  William Funk, mentioned above, is of Korn/Ferry International, an executive search firm that managed the presidential searches at UNM in 1990 and 1998.  Another is Baker-Parker Inc., a presidential search firm based in Georgia.  Another is A.T. Kearney.

A. T. Kearney, a global search firm founded in 1946,  was used in many presidential searches in New Mexico.  One of the last searches at UNM that selected Caldera back in 2003 cost the university at least $144,800.  Most of it went to A.T. Kearney, hired in October 2002 by the UNM board of regents with in initial contract worth $130,000.(3)  They ultimately got $90,000 in the base contract and at least $13,500 for other expenses, for a total of $114,898.57 paid to the firm.  The estimated budget UNM gave to the search overall was $200,000.(4)  Lots of money is involved in all of the ends of getting a university president.

Comparison to Faculty Salaries

While the influential in New Mexico want to have the compensation of the university president to be competitive, they don’t seem to have that much interest in making faculty salaries competitive.  The salaries of professors at UNM back in 2003 were ranked last compared to 16 peer colleges, of similar state research universities.  The average salary of a professor at UNM in 2003 was $95,600, with the national average being $114,670.  This includes benefits  for health insurance and retirement.  The average salary at University of Texas at Austin was $123,100.  One professor called faculty salaries at UNM ridiculously low, undermining morale.(5)  But as in the corporate world the main salary of concern is that of the president.


1.  Figures from the following articles:

-Floersheim, Ryan.  “Collegiate Presidential Salaries Rise Nationwide.”  Daily Lobo (UNM).  March 11, 2003.  Pg 1, 2.

-Uyttebrouck, Olivier.  Uyttebrouck, Olivier.  “Who is Fit to Lead.”  Albuquerque Journal.  August 12, 2002.  Pg. A1.

-Uyttebrouck, Olivier.  “Paying the Price for Talent.”  Albuquerque Journal.  August 13, 2002.  Pg. A1, A4.

2.   A comparison of other universities in the southwestern United States shows this is accurate:  President Michael Crow, Arizona State University at Tempe:  $390,000.  President James Bernard Machen of University of Utah at Salt Lake City:  $271,000.  President Albert Yates of Colorado State University at Fort Collins: $240,215.

3. “UNM to Hire Chicago Firm for Presidential Search.”  New Mexico Business Weekly.  October 23, 2002. http://albuquerque.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/stories/2002/10/21/daily13.html (accessed May 19, 2003)

4. Sanchez, Jennifer.  “UNM Still Figuring Tab For Leader Search.”  Albuquerque Tribune.  June 19, 2003.  Pg. A3.

5. Sanchez, Jennifer.  “UNM Faculty Wants: Better Pay, Prez’s Ear.”  Albuquerque Tribune.  August 26, 2003.  Pg. A1.



There is more recent data about the president’s and other administrators salaries.  This article (http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/04/02/unm) shows the current president, David Schmidly, had a total compensation of $587,000 a year.  Increased a lot since I was at UNM.

Faculty there also had votes of no confidence in the administration over its mismanagement: (http://www.unm.edu/~market/cgi-bin/archives/003678.html).

Recently in 2011 President Schmidly decided not to renew his contract (http://www.dukecityfix.com/forum/topics/breaking-unm-president-to-step), meaning another presidential search at UNM coming up!

As any readers can tell, I’m going through my own research from back in the days right now.  It will be up to current students there to get more recent figures on the goings on at UNM, or any other university you are at.

In the meantime I will get back to my research on Louis Caldera.


About elloborojo

Okay, as the subtitle states, this is a notebook from what I call a New Mexico diaspora (look up diaspora if you are asking). I was a former resident of New Mexico, now living elsewhere, but New Mexico is still my homeland. To get more in touch with your homeland one must be away from it. This is my attempt to understand it. I was a former anti-militarism activist in the Albuquerque area. Still believe that United Snakes militarism is the greatest threat to the world, as do the majority of the worlds population. Uncovered much information about the ties in New Mexico, but never processed it all. This blog is an attempt to do that. Also hope it may come of use to others with similar interests.
This entry was posted in Louis Caldera, Richard Peck, Universities, University of New Mexico. Bookmark the permalink.

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