Despite Cuts, Kentucky Community College Head Gets Lucrative Deal

KCTCS - sign - McNair

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.

Michael McCall


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.

KCTCS photo

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 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.

8 thoughts on “Despite Cuts, Kentucky Community College Head Gets Lucrative Deal

  1. Having once been a part time “adjunct instructor” at one of these KCTCS colleges, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Sweetheart deals abound for the individual college presidents. Their “loyalists” are rewarded by promotion to office they are not qualified for and not able to do. They have eliminated tenure for recent hires to decrease benefits paid out, while creating dozens of “associate Dean” positions as rewards to the “brown nosers “. They have been awarded millions in building contracts but have pushed instructors to do many if not all of their classes on line. This is often done by means of purchased modules of software that require almost no work on the instructors part. For students who need or desire face to face, traditional instruction…it’s difficult, if not impossible to find. There is obvious waste such as a culinary arts building in a very rural, high unemployment, low education area that has no hope of access to fine cuisine. Enrollment is almost non existent but the money has been spent and the programs continue. Advisement…one of the most important duties provided to the student is hilarious at some of these colleges. To be “Master Adviser” requires nothing but sitting in a room full of people while one person spends about 30 minutes telling faculty where to find course sections in the college website and which form to use. Then the instructor is turned loose, supposedly capable of directing any student through any program offered.
    There really needs to be a state attorney General investigation of waste and probable fraud involving taxpayer money by the entire KCTCS system and certain colleges that seem to have way too many “chiefs” living big while the “Indians” are left to flounder. And then if they don’t go along with the “club” they are fired..

    • Amen. This ivory tower is dark and dirty, starting with McCall. It has been since its inception. Shameful.

  2. It is time to stop this mistake and others like it. Opponents of this must run for office, get strong commitments from leaders to reverse this decision now, elect officer holders who will and/or run for office! Don Pratt for Lexington’s Council at Large

  3. The KCTCS Board of Regents needs to be dissolved and a new one needs to be elected – not appointed on the basis of political patronage as the system works now. How is it possible that this board could possibly think it’s appropriate to lavishly reward a chief executive officer that has overseen a precipitous decline in enrollment and a significant decrease in funding for the community/technical college system? Perhaps it’s because they were complicit in creating this shabby record. And because they live in a bubble, talking only to each other and others who agree with whatever they do. They do not deign to hear anything from the people who actually work in the colleges, even the elected faculty and staff representatives on the board.

    Right now most of the KCTCS colleges across the state are in financial crisis thanks to the board’s lack of leadership. Some are contemplating furloughs and layoffs, and all will have to cut services to students and communities. This will happen despite the fact that this board and president supported a tuition increase on students in addition to an $8 per credit hour “assessment” to finance new construction projects the board fancies.

    The damage to the students and colleges inflicted by the board is unconscionable. And the extravagances heaped on a “president emeritus” with no job description in a time of fiscal crisis amounts to misappropriation of public funds. The KCTCS Board needs to be replaced with people who are committed to the students and communities they serve and actually know something about higher education.

  4. Instructors are teachers who are hired and are in their first three years of teaching. We go up for promotion as Assistant Professor after three years and so on. We teach, serve on committees and advise and a lot more. We just don’t teach. I am one. I think that you are speaking of part time adjunct or at some colleges a lecturer – which I was for 2 years.
    But we do try to keep the tuition down and won’t be able to if we do something like this.. most of our students are on financial aid and we try to help students with scholarship money that we as teachers raise.. we are a great college but this makes us look bad:( Why should he get paid? the only other person I know that gets paid after office is the President of the US with approximately $450,00 and full benefits and the Secret Service… Trust me the president of KCTCS getting this after retirement is crazy

  5. Thanks for reading the story and taking the time to comment. If you know of other issues that need to be looked at regarding KCTCS, e-mail our reporting staff at or call (502) 814-6541.

  6. In an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 3, 2010, Stephen Joel
    Trachtenberg, president emeritus and university professor of public service at
    George Washington University wrote:

    “When belts are being tightened on all sides of the campus—few or low raises,
    restrictions on travel grants, layoffs of support staff, reduction of research
    dollars—then administrative salaries should not be out of line with the rest of
    the campus’s expenditures. Shared sacrifice makes difficulties a little easier
    to bear.”

    Hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation when there are no duties and no
    expectations articulated in the agreement to serve as an emeritus president
    sounds more like a feather bed like “shared sacrifice.” The students at
    KCTCS who face tuition increases, and the taxpaying public deserve to know what
    role an emeritus president will play that justifies paying $324,321.