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Slash more, earn more: Maybe UA President Gamble should be on commission

Rick Goodfellow
OPINION: Rick Goodfellow argues that critics of the hundreds of thousands of bonus dollars being offered to the president of University of Alaska obviously don't understand how business works. Pictured: Goodfellow.
Rebecca Belcher photo courtesy Rick Goodfellow

When you’re trying to get by on little more than $300,000 a year, it’s inevitable you’ll cut corners. Little details are bound to escape your attention, and who wouldn’t be distracted by the taunts and sneers of those who are paid more than you?

Surely this explains the wrong-footed rollout of University of Alaska President Patrick Gamble’s $320,000 retention bonus.

Reduced to its essentials, UA President Gamble has been offered a 50 percent raise for agreeing to stay on the job two more years.

Some folks don’t understand. A few have even expressed the quaint notion that this is an inopportune time to pass out bonus checks since all three university campuses are reeling from budget cuts and more are on the way. Private donations for the university have declined on the current president’s watch, and future appropriations from the state look as if they are headed down a rocky road too.

Well, these critics may be well-intended but they obviously don’t understand business. In fact, the Board of Regents hasn’t gone nearly far enough in slashing costs. This is not an era for the namby-pamby. Troubled times demand that everyone tighten their belts, except of course the chief executive.

All that stuff about leading by example? It’s just so 20th century!

Salaries tied to growth and success? Come on now, this is Alaska!

Our modern age demands modern thinking. You can’t expect the university to inspire students if its president isn’t pocketing a gargantuan raise.

The University of Alaska’s income is dwindling. Let’s turn this lemon into lemonade.

The most expensive (and most annoying) aspects of any college are its students and faculty. Get rid of those and you’ll save some real money.

To give credit where it’s due, the university has already taken some meaningful steps in this direction. But why stop?

The most expeditious way to further the cause is as American as apple pie. Let’s put President Gamble on commission. The smaller he makes Alaska's public university system, the more he could be paid.

Surely even the most well-meaning and whiny do-gooders agree that lasting efficiencies are worth a paltry commission. So let’s close the whole place down and give the president a really big bonus. And while we’re at it, we can further increase for his base salary, automobile allowance, house and other benefits too.

The school may be down but it’s not yet out. Let’s finish the job.

Rick Goodfellow is the founder of KLEF-FM, Anchorage’s classical music radio station. He says his own five-year pledge to help support a journalism professor at UAA is dwarfed by Pat Gamble’s bonus.

The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.