The new corporate raiders
That college presidents are, in some cases, making more than they have in recent years is inevitably going to trigger conservative talk about the free market and supply demand being pitted against liberal talk about justice and fairness. (Perhaps liberals will propose that we assess a windfall tax on the salaries of college presidents.) What I think most analyses miss is the fact that this is a self-perpetuating system.
"We've created a cadre of hired guns whose economic interests are totally divorced from students and faculty," said Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, a nonprofit group based in San Jose, Calif. "It creates a real problem for leadership, and does nothing to help higher education."
I don't think Patrick Callan is correct. The prestige, new buildings and increased endowment and salaries that skilled presidents can bring in might sit fine with students and faculty. Thus, Callan misses the point of his own first two words: WE'VE CREATED. The demands of trustees, influential donors and faculty, and uninvolved parents are to blame for Ben Ladner spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on chocolate, or whatever the heck he did. Students made a website back in 2002 (2002!) pointing out his excesses, and no one picked up on it until 2005.
If we really want to discuss this intelligently, we need to bring in the enormous pressures on permanent fund-raisers WITHOUT sacrificing our ability to criticize people who abuse the system. Like Ladner.