Administrators and deans earn highest salaries

Provost April Mason speaks during an event on May 19, 2016. Mason is the highest-paid K-State employee. (File Photo by Evert Nelson | The Collegian)

The top 20 highest-paid people at Kansas State all earn over $227,000 per year.

According to the K-State budget for this academic year, the highest-paid people at the university are April Mason, provost and senior vice president, and Interim President Gen. Richard Myers.

This year, Mason will earn $367,532 and Myers will earn $360,000.

Employees of K-State Athletics Inc., including John Currie, athletic director, and Bill Snyder, head football coach, are paid by Athletics and not the university. Athletics does not receive any funding from the university.

Top university administrators and college deans comprise the majority of the highest-paid faculty and staff at K-State.

Kevin Gwinner, dean of the College of Business Administration, and Darren Dawson, dean of the College of Engineering, tie for the highest-paid deans with each earning a salary of $316,200.

Philip Belley, professor of economics specializing in labor economics, said the reason for the high salaries was “simple.”

“There’s two things,” Belley said. “There’s the value of what they’re doing. And then there’s how much outside competition there is for these people.”

Belley also said department heads have added tasks and responsibilities that result in salary increases.

“As you get more responsibilities, you have to compensate people for that,” Belley said.

While some of the administrators, deans and department heads on the list may teach classes, only two of the top 20 serve only as professors: Jim Riviere, professor of anatomy and physiology, and Juergen Richt, professor of diagnostic medicine pathobiology.

Riviere earns $274,281 and Richt earns $237,606, which makes them the highest-paid faculty who are solely professors at the university.

Research usually brings money into the university through grants, Belley said, which can make top researchers more valuable.

“It turns out that people who are good at research, there’s lots of competition for them across universities and also private firms to get that kind of skills,” Belley said. “If you want to keep your people around, you need to pay them good money.”

Roberta Maldonado Franzen, director of talent acquisition for Human Capital Services, said the hiring process is similar for all positions at the university. Higher-level positions though may have public forums for the finalists.

Derek Smith, director of compensation and organizational effectiveness for Human Capital Services, agreed that competition with other universities causes salaries to be higher.

“With supply and demand, if other peers are paying a wage and we want to be competitive, we need to be within that range,” Smith said.

To determine the value of a position, Smith said his office looks at the ranges of other universities. The pay, he said, is based on the position.

“The skills and the job duties that are involved, you pay accordingly,” Smith said.

For lower faculty positions, though, Smith said “it has been a challenge” to have competitive salaries with other universities, especially K-State’s peer institutions.

“There’s a lot of colleges,” Belley said. “You have to think about who’s competing for these people.”

It is that competition and the value of the work that Belley said cause the higher salaries for the administrators and deans.

“It all comes down to what is the value of what they’re doing and how much your competing college is willing to pay for that,” Belley said. “That’s what’s going to set up the prices. Salaries are just prices.”

Top 20 Salaries

April Mason, provost and senior vice president: $367,532

Richard Myers, interim president: $360,000

Peter Dorhout, vice president of research: $320,000

Kevin Gwinner, dean of College of Business Administration: $316,200

Darren Dawson, dean of College of Engineering: $316,200

Tammy Beckham, dean of College of Veterinary Medicine: $295,840

John Floros, dean of College of Agriculture: $294,514

Ralph Richardson, interim dean and CEO of K-State Olathe: $276,200

Jim Riviere, professor of anatomy and physiology: $274,281

Bonnie Rush, associate dean of College of Veterinary Medicine: $270,000

Amitabha Chakrabarti, interim dean of College of Arts and Sciences: $251,200

Ruth Dyer, vice provost for academic affairs: $250,207

Brian Spooner, director of division of biology: $245,375

Juergen Richt, professor of diagnostic medicine pathobiology: $237,606

Cindy Bontrager, vice president of administration and finance: $235,000

Ronnie Elmore, associate dean of College of Veterinary Medicine: $232,018

Stephen Higgs, director of Biosecurity Research Institute: $230,273

Allen Featherstone, department head of agricultural economics: $230,000

Verna Fitzsimmons, dean of K-State Polytechnic: $228,745

Bradley Kramer, department head of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering: $227,395

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series analyzing the K-State budget and the salaries therein.

Jason Tidd graduated from Kansas State University's Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communication in May 2017. He was the spring 2017 editor-in-chief, fall 2016 news editor and spring 2016 assistant news editor. While at K-State, Jason played baritone in the Pride of Wildcat Land marching band.