As the debate over the national minimum wage rages on, one man has decided to take action on his own.
Raymond Burse, the interim president of Kentucky State University, has decided to take a $90,000 pay cut to boost the wages of the campus’s lowest-paid workers, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Burse, who was set to make $349,869, will now make $259,744 annually after the cut was approved by the school’s board of regents. According to WLKY, he said that the pay cut was “necessary since some of the employees were making as little as $7.25 an hour.”
A total of 24 employees will now earn $10.25 an hour. Their new rate will remain even after a new president takes Burse’s place.
“This is not a publicity stunt,” Burse told the Herald-Leader. “You don’t give up $90,000 for publicity. I did this for the people. This is something I’ve been thinking about from the very beginning.”
Burse first served as Kentucky State’s president from 1982 to 1989, then became a senior executive at General Electric for 17 years before retiring in 2012 with good benefits, reports say.
Even though Burse has brushed off his generosity, other public university officials might want to take note since many of them earn abundant salaries, such as Ohio State University’s E. Gordon Gee, the top-paid public college president in the country, who makes $1.8 million annually. (Vox notes that there are a few other college presidents who, like Burse, have decided to raise the minimum worker wage on their campuses.) And according to report from TIME, from 2009 to 2012 salaries have skyrocketed: “Executive compensation at public research universities increased 14 percent to an average of $544,554, while compensation for presidents at the highest-paying universities increased by a third, to $974,006.”
Burse said, however, that his gesture wasn’t meant to urge other presidents and execs to take similar action, telling the Herald-Leader that he was merely in a position where he could spread his wealth.
“My whole thing is I don’t need to work,” he said. “This is not a hobby, but in terms of the people who do the hard work and heavy lifting, they are at the lower pay scale.”
So while Burse might not be encouraging his peers to follow his lead, we certainly hope others do.