Evidently it is the salary and perks that the community college of Monmouth County is giving it's School President Peter Burnham.
Burnham's total compensation package for leading Brookdale over the past 20 years is roughly $300K a year. He currently receives a $1,500 monthly housing allowance, drives a 2010 Ford Expedition that the college purchased for $42,815,is provided with a membership to the Navisink Country Club, and can be reimbursed $20K per year to send his kids to private colleges on top of a $216K base salary.
That's not to shabby if you ask me, but am I surprised or outraged at hearing the news? No, not really. His compensation doesn't seem that far off from what other college presidents receive throughout the state or country.
College Presidents, like school district superintendents, are a special breed that are highly sort after. Someone like Peter Burnham, who has presided over an institution for 20 years and has oversaw it's large expansion during that time while maintaining it's academic level, which by the way, is considered far more superior than many other colleges in the state, probably deserves much of what he receives in compensation.
The only reason why Burnham's compensation has come to light and has now been scrutinized is because he had the gaul to blame the Monmouth County Freeholders for a 8% hike in tuition which was planned for, but now rescinded under pressure, for the coming year.
Burnham embarrassed the Freeholder Board with his comments, so in retaliation Freeholder John Curly released information on Burnham's salary and perks to embarrass Peter Burnham and Brookdale's Board of Directors in return so that he could cover his ass and those of his colleagues on the Freeholder Board. After all, it is the Freeholder Board that appoints
Brookdale's trustees and should have been overseeing/approving contracts for Burnham over the years. If his compensation wasn't considered outrageous previously, why is it now? Politics, that's why.
This was an underhanded and despicable move by Curly, to score political points and encourage others to voice outrage against Brookdale and Burnham, which it has. News out today is that Governor Christie will now be focusing his attention on Burnham's employment contract and those of other public college presidents around the state.
Now, before anyone jumps to the conclusion that I am writing this because I support tuition hikes on students or think that it is appropriate that Peter Burnham receives such generous perks, I do not. I feel that before any costs are passed on to students in the form of tuition or fee hikes, all attempts to reduce costs should be made first.
I'm a big believer in honoring contracts that were negotiated in good faith, as it seems that Burnham's was. If John Curly or other members of the Freeholder Board had a problem with Burnham's contract previously they should have spoken before now, to claim ignorance of it is skirting their own responsiblity over it.
That said, it seems that regardless of the method used to achieve the means, it happens to be good news for those who attend Brookdale, the cost of their continuing education will not be rising next year.