Enrollment at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System is down to its lowest level in five years, while tuition revenue and state funding are at eight-year lows.
Tuition is going up and spending cuts are well under way.
“The colleges, especially over the past six years, have had to tighten their belts both on the personnel and operating expense side,” said KCTCS’ chief finance officer, Ken Walker.
One personnel expense that wasn’t tightened, though, is that of KCTCS President Michael McCall.
McCall, 66, one of the highest paid community college system administrators in the nation, received total compensation of $641,699 in 2013. It included a $317,962 base salary, a $78,509 bonus and a $90,000 housing allowance. He also receives an automobile allowance of $3,600 per month, or $43,200 per year. All with taxpayers’ and students’ dollars.
McCall’s 16-year career at the system’s helm will end with his retirement next January, but he will still get a paycheck.
A 16-month-old document obtained by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting shows that he will become president emeritus for one year and draw his final base salary, or $324,321 after a recent 2 percent raise. To earn it, he “shall perform duties as requested by his successor.”
Professors who have seen their school budgets pinched and their workloads grow in recent years say the KCTCS board’s generosity with McCall smacks of hypocrisy.
“It’s a sweetheart deal,” said David Cooper, an English professor at Jefferson Community & Technical College and president of the Kentucky Community College Faculty and Staff Alliance union.
“Generally speaking, a new president is not going to want the old president to tell him or her how to run the system,” Cooper said. “I don’t think the taxpayers should be paying him a salary for doing no work at all. They certainly wouldn’t be doing that for a faculty member.”
Barbara Ashley, a sociology professor at JCTC’s Southwest campus in Pleasure Ridge Park, was appalled by the emeritus deal. Last year, the 72-campus KCTCS was forced to draw $15.5 million from its net capital. This year, the KCTCS Board of Regents cut the system’s day-to-day spending by 9.4 percent.
“If this system were flush — and community colleges have always been underfunded — it might make a little more sense,” she said. “Yet we’re facing state budget cuts. His situation doesn’t seem to be moving in tandem with that.”
Through a spokeswoman, McCall declined to be interviewed.
McCall has received $90,000 in each of the last six years, or a total of $540,000, according to KCTCS. Yet McCall and his wife paid off the mortgage on their Versailles house three years ago, local property records show. They bought the 4,754-square-foot house in 2005 for $439,000 and are now trying to sell it. It’s listed for $475,000.
Whatever amount they get, the money stays in their pockets.
Meanwhile, KCTCS is trying to shore up its revenue. Last week, the state Council on Postsecondary Education gave the greenlight to a KCTCS tuition increase of up to 4 percent over two years.
To Cooper, the KCTCS faculty union president, the negative trends in the system’s finances make McCall’s deal stand out even more.
“It’s amazing that a poor state like Kentucky can afford to pay that kind of salary,” Cooper said.
Reporter James McNair can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (502) 815-6543.
* Correction: This story was updated to reflect that KCTCS enrollment is down to its lowest level in five years. It was not the fifth consecutive decline.