When every day seemingly brings headlines of record compensation for the top executives of America's nonprofits and companies, it is refreshing to see President Barry Mills exercise restraint. With a record as impressive as his, there is little question he could be among the highest-compensated liberal arts college presidents in the country if he so wished. Yet year after year, Mills has made it clear to the Board of Trustees that money is not his prerogative, turning away hundreds of thousands of dollars.
There are numerous college presidents who, despite being independently wealthy, are motivated by reasons of prestige and politics to claim salaries at the top of the market .By accepting a relatively low compensation package, Mills has shown he keeps Bowdoin's best interests at heart. Over the past several years much has been said about our tenuous financial situation, but Mills' actions have lightened the burden on the College's finances.
On top of all this, being paid less actually improves Mills' ability to do his job. An alumnus considering a donation is far more likely to give if he can be assured his hard-earned pay is not falling into the lap of an already-wealthy executive.
Most leaders in higher education seem to have forgotten that their institutions are endowed for the public good, and that they are rendering a public service. We do not expect the presidents of other NESCAC schools to display quite the same strength of character, but following Mills' example would lend much-needed credibility to their institutions, which have frequently been criticized for being inaccessible to low-income and middle class families.
The collegiate, nonprofit atmosphere should not be one for egos. The example Mills has set is bold and profound.
The editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient's editorial board, which comprises Nick Daniels, Piper Grosswendt, Linda Kinstler and Seth Walder.