My alma mater has its priorities all wrong
The University of Michigan and most of its alumni long for a national champion football team, or at least a team that can beat Ohio State. What the school and its publicly-elected Regents are willing to pay to get such a team is alarming, especially when compared with its willingness to pay for scholars and researchers.
Michigan is committed to paying head coach Jim Harbaugh’s top three assistants $1 million each per year. Harbaugh got an eye-popping $7 million contract to leave the NFL and restore glory to Michigan’s wolverines. But these are millionaire assistant coaches.
The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press report that the defensive coordinator, Don Brown, and the offensive coordinator, Tim Drevno, have been retained with contracts worth more than $10 million combined over the next five years. The passing coordinator, Pep Hamilton, was lured from the Cleveland Browns with a four-year, $4.25 million deal.
Michigan is a state whose biggest city’s infrastructure is nightmarishly bad, whose school buildings are crumbling, and which only recently emerged from bankruptcy. Another large city, Flint, is in receivership and saved money by cutting corners on the safety of its water supply, leading to the poisoning of thousands of children and other residents.
But the state can afford to make its top school’s assistant coaches millionaires.
Why can’t it then pay overtime to its postdoctoral researchers or give them raises to $47,476 as it planned to before a federal judge blocked the Department of Labor’s overtime rule from taking effect? The University of Michigan was a leader in the campaign to fight the overtime rule, claiming it couldn’t afford to pay its PhD researchers for the 15-20 hours of overtime they work in an average week. University officials claimed U of M couldn’t even afford to give the postdocs raises of $3,000-$5,000 to put them above the threshold that permits exemption from overtime pay.
But it can afford to make millionaires of the assistant coaches.
This says something appalling about how far the University of Michigan and its current leaders have strayed from the mission of the university, which is one of the oldest public research universities in the nation. They value winning football games far more than they value the core research done by the university’s young scholars. They have little respect for either the researchers or the work they do.
As an alumnus of the University of Michigan Law School, it makes me sick.
Read more on this topic: Universities oppose paying their postdocs overtime, but pay coaches millions of dollars.