A HBCU college president took a 25 percent salary cut in order to boost the wages of some of the universities lowest paid employees.
It’s an almost-unheard-of move, the interim president of Kentucky State University took a $90,000 pay cut of what would have been his own money. Instead, staffers making minimum wage and little more, which includes groundskeepers, janitors and some clerical workers, will now make $10.25/hour.
“I figured it was easier for me to forgo that amount, rather than adding an additional burden on the institution,” Burse told the Washington Post. He continued, “I had been thinking about it almost since the day they started talking to me about being interim president.”
And it doesn’t end there. While Burse’s salary has been adjusted from $349,869 to $254,744 as a result of his decision, he has pledged to continue lowering his salary as new minimum wage employees are hired on at the HBCU to ensure their hourly wages are $10.25.
The Hopkinsville, Ky. Native told CBS This Morning he empathizes with lower-paid employees, “I came from basically nothing to where I am today, so I can relate to and associate with those employees. And I know how people struggle and I didn’t want those employees struggling at a time when we’re trying to make improvements in the institution.”
Further explaining his benevolent decision Burse says, “I thought that if I’m going to ask them to really be committed and give this institution their all, I should be doing something in return.”
The Kentucky House passed a bill to increase the minimum wage to $10.10, but it didn’t pass the state’s Senate. As a result, Kentucky pays workers the federal minimum wage–$7.25/hour. Formerly president of Kentucky State University from 1982 until 1989, Burse is now interim head of the school and will hold the role until a permanent replacement is found.
About the high bar he’s set for the next KSU president, Burse told CBS The Morning, “I think they’re going to continue the tradition and do the things that he or she needs to do in that position.”