UM paper draws complaints and readers by listing staff salaries Advertisers enjoy controversial annual issue

February 27, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

It is a tradition at the Diamondback, the University of Maryland's student newspaper; one that angers employees, but delights advertisers eager to get their messages in the pages that are sure to be read.

About this time every year, the paper publishes a 12-page supplement listing the salaries of most of the university's staff, from President William E. Kirwan's $161,200 to the $26,631 Hazel Stephenson makes as an administrative aide.

Ms. Stephenson, who works in the meteorology department, is steamed.

"I hate it," she snapped. "No one needs to know how much you're making. That's our business."

But Jim Dodson, owner of Closet of Comics on U.S. 1 in College Park, wouldn't miss it.

"We don't advertise in every supplement, but that's one we definitely advertise in," he said. "I think a lot of people are curious about what their professors are making."

The supplement, called "Money Matters," is "more popularly read and picked up" than others, said Sharon Meyers, who advertises her haircutting salon, Great Clips, in it.

Even students who think salaries are private matters read the supplement.

"I like to know," said Heather Murray, a 20-year-old junior biology major. "But I really don't think it's right. It's not up to the public to know what someone makes."

Steve Barkin, who was a journalism professor at Ohio State University before he moved to UM 17 years ago, said the furor over the supplement is surprising. The student newspaper in Columbus did the same thing.

"It's not unusual," said Mr. Barkin, who makes $50,739. "It's a common practice at public universities. That it's done is not surprising nor bothersome."

David Murray, editor of the supplement, said it was designed to help students learn more about how their money is spent. The information already is available in the latest Maryland Detail Budget, a thick tome on the shelves in the campus library.

"Citizens of the state have a right to know how their money is being spent," he said.

Some of that money is being spent on professors, who make an average of $58,000 a year, though some make nearly three times that much.

Professors' salaries are heavily weighted by department. In the College of Engineering, 28 professors earn more than $100,000, hTC while the highest paid professor in the College of Education makes $93,000.

Roland King, a university spokesman who makes $85,729, said salaries for engineering professors are driven by the law of supply and demand.

"You're going to have to pay more to get the top-flight mechanical engineer or aerospace engineer because they can command a greater salary outside of school," he explained.

Four members of the athletic department, including Deborah Yow, the athletic director, and men's basketball head coach Gary Williams, earn more than $100,000. No member of the Multi-Ethnic Student Education office makes more than $65,000.

And in another odd twist, the university president doesn't make as much as William E. Meyer, the dean of the College of Business and Management, who receives $162,180.

But the supplement is not perfect. Eugene Roberts, who went on leave from the College of Journalism to become the managing editor at the New York Times, is listed as making $106,374 this year. Frank Kline, a spokesman for the department, said Mr. Roberts is not being paid while he is absent from the campus.

Mr. Murray, meanwhile, readily admits that some of the figures are inflated by research grants and off-campus lecturer fees, and the salaries of some employees in smaller departments don't get into the supplement for space reasons.

Students in those departments often are frustrated that they don't get to see what their professors make, he said.

Employee reaction to the supplement is split, usually along income lines. Those earning more money don't mind the publicity as much as lower paid workers.

"I don't have a problem with the salaries being published," said Barbara Jacoby, director of commuter affairs, who makes $64,832. "It's public information. It always sits on the shelves at the library, and any student who wants to look at it can."

But Shirley Pressley, a $26,631 administrative aide, wonders whose business it is how much she makes and what the newspaper expects to gain from publishing her salary.

"I don't think it's fair," she huffed.

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