Overcompensated or Skewed Numbers?

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - On the front page of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, in bold letters-- ASU's system president is named as the highest paid university president in the State of Arkansas.

"My first reaction was something is wrong, because the numbers that were submitted by Arkansas State didn't square up with those submitted by other universities," said President Les Wyatt.

He has been the president of the ASU system for 13 years, and he says his salary is no more than that of other schools the same size across the country.

Wyatt aslo says the biggest discrepancy in the article is about his home on Nettleton, which is paid for and maintained by the university.

"I live there, and I enjoy living there, but it's not a value that's part of my compensation," said Wyatt.

He says using the housing numbers in the figures is partly why it appears that his salary is more than that of University of Arkansas system president Alan Sugg who comes in second with more than $538-thousand a year.

"The university looks at that president's house exactly as it would a classroom building on campus. It considers that part of the property inventory, and takes care of it the same way they do any campus building," said Wyatt.

However, when you compare the salary of any university president to those of the lower faculty members, even Wyatt can't deny the big difference beside the dollar sign.

"There's a big gap, and you can't avoid that. It's true in any industry. It's true in any business. The executive staff is usually compensated more greatly than the employees on the line," said Wyatt.

The report release was done by the State's Higher Education Department, who also recognizes that some of the survey items counted were not directly tied to a president's actual monetary salary.

Meanwhile, Wyatt maintains that the state should take a closer look at the numbers reported by other schools.

For more information on the numbers and to look at the report released in the newspaper, you can visit the Arkansas Democrat Gazette's website.

Story ideas or comments?  Email Will at wcarter@kait8.com.