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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

UF President Bernie Machen makes a lot of money - more than three-quarters of a million dollars.

Damn.

He earns more than the president of the United States - but one could argue Machen does more than George Bush.

Machen's base salary is ,411,037, which isn't ridiculous. But the additional ,315,812 he earns in bonuses is. Nearly eight grand for an Audi, ,75,000 for an annual bonus, and almost ,23,000 for retirement pay. That's funny - we always thought retirement pay was supposed to come out of your paycheck.

The one that makes us say "Huh?" the loudest is a ,210,000 retention bonus - even though he is under contract.

If only all jobs came with such great bonuses. Ones that normally do are for CEOs of big companies. Sure, UF might need to utilize some business practices and try to be efficient, but Bernie is still the boss of a university, not a Fortune 500 company.

Universities are held to a different standard than businesses. UF's job is to educate students and support the "full exploration of its intellectual boundaries," according to the registrar's Web site - not to maximize profits.

So why does Bernie get paid so much money at a time when the rest of the university is struggling to make ends meet? During times of financial struggle, "it's important that you have great leadership," said Dianna Morgan, chairwoman of the UF Board of Trustees.

We don't necessarily think so. What does it say to the departments that are being gutted because of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' shortfalls? What does it say to all the students who won't be able to take sport and fitness classes? "Oh, hey, guys. Um, so we can't afford this anymore … yeah. Sorry. But never mind my Audi. Or my new Armani suit. Or my Rolex. Or my Louis Vuitton briefcase."

Maybe if Bernie wants to show that he is dedicated to UF and its well-being, he would donate a portion of his salary back to it. He could pay for a new professor or two or a couple of academic advisers. Maybe he could give some of his salary toward a handful of scholarships. Or a department in need.

We know it's not Bernie's personal responsibility to pull UF out of its predicament. But it is his professional responsibility. UF pays him enough - maybe it wouldn't be so bad for him to consider giving some back.

Part of the reason Bernie was hired was because of his fundraising prowess. Those raised funds go to the UF Foundation. So does anyone else find it a little odd that the UF Foundation turns around and pays part of Bernie's salary?

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Plus, we really don't appreciate his attitude toward this. The way he flippantly asked, "Are university presidents worth that kind of money?" makes us doubt that he is. It's no laughing matter how much UF gives him. Students who are thousands of dollars in debt probably don't think it's very funny. Professors who are watching their departments crumble aren't laughing. Divisions that are laying people off don't see the humor of the situation.

Bernie is supposed to be carrying us through these financial struggles. If he wants everyone to come out on the other side, some things need to change. We know Bernie's salary won't change, but maybe his attitude and generosity could.

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