College President Donates $90,000 of His Salary to Low-Wage Campus Workers

The interim president of Kentucky State University cut his own pay so that the low wages of 24 workers on his campus would be increased.

The lowest-paid workers at Kentucky State University will soon get a bump in their paychecks, thanks to the generosity of the head of KSU.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, interim KSU president Raymond Burse elected to decrease his salary from $349,869 to $259,745. The $90,000 pay cut will be used to boost the pay of 24 of the university’s lowest-paid employees to $10.25 per hour, WLKY said. Some of the workers were making just $7.25.

Burse was named interim president in June, after the former president retired. He will work in that position for 12 months. Previously Burse served as KSU’s president from 1982 to 1989, the Herald-Leader said. He then worked as an executive at General Electric.

According to the Herald-Leader:

“This is not a publicity stunt,” [Burse] said. “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 started talking with the KSU Board of Regents about decreasing his salary to benefit KSU employees a couple of weeks before his contract was reviewed by the board, the Herald-Leader said.

“My whole thing is I don’t need to work,” Burse 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.”

The $10.25 hourly rate change is effective immediately and will remain in place even after a new KSU president is hired.

Can you imagine if other employers followed suit, cutting their pay to benefit their low-wage employees?

What do you think of Burse’s decision? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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  • bigpinch

    I think it’s great. It’s his money and his decision. But I wonder, since he’s the interim President, will his successor be so disposed? Most people, even folks making the kind of dough that college presidents pull down, usually have most of their income fully committed. They can’t afford to give up that kind of money.
    If his successor is hired at the same salary and can’t, because of financial obligations, turn loose of $90K however sympathetic he may be toward the plight of people earning minimum wage, how will the college make up for the difference? Will they return those low-wage workers to their previous pay scale? How happy will those workers be if that happens?

    • biker bob

      This is a slippery slope . What someone does out of kindness can later turn into an obligation for someone else . I know this sounds harsh but real life is harsh . Throw this into the political arena all bets are off .

      • bigpinch


    • “Most people, even folks making the kind of dough that college presidents pull down, usually have most of their income fully committed. They can’t afford to give up that kind of money.”

      Well, that’s a decision for the board to make, isn’t it? They can offer the next president $350K, or they can offer $260K and keep the salary increase for the minimum-wage workers. If a candidate isn’t satisfied with $260K, he doesn’t have to take it. But I don’t think it will be because he “can’t afford” to make ends meet on $260K, when the low-wage workers are managing to get by on $7.25 an hour. (To save you the trouble of doing the math: with a 40-hour work week and 50 weeks of work a year, that’s $14,500 annually.)

      • bigpinch

        I can do the math just fine, thanks. Yes, it is a decision for the board to make. But, remember, the board isn’t just pulling numbers out of the air (or, if they are , they aren’t doing their jobs). They have budget constraints and the cost of hiring someone isn’t set arbitrarily whether it’s the college’s president or the college’s mop jockey.
        Three hundred fifty thousand dollars isn’t an unrealistic salary to attract and retain the kind of talent and experience needed to helm a good university (Heck, the assistant football coach at my alma mater makes more than that). $7.25 per hour is the federally mandated minimum wage. The university couldn’t pay less than that even if the person they hire isn’t worth it and even if the service rendered isn’t worth it.
        Seven dollars twenty-five cents per hour isn’t a “living wage” but neither is $10.25 or $15 per hour. So what? The university has a job it needs done. They’re hiring labor not taking someone to raise.
        What if the university has to increase tuition to cover their increased costs? What if the increased tuition means that some kid, squeeking by on a $7.25 an hour job, can no longer afford to go to college at KSU? Can’t he or she just go to school somewhere else? Can’t the university’s mop jockey make the same choice? Some people will definitely go somewhere else if all they can make as president of KSU is $260 K.
        To reiterate my initial point, if Raymond Burse wants to give his money away, I don’t have any problem with that. He can do what he wants with it but whatever he does has consequences.

  • Damon Walker

    Awesome. Someone putting the welfare of others ahead of his own. Simply awesome.

  • grandmaguest

    KUDOS to him. Hopefully someone this dedicated to the University and it’s workers will be hired as the full time president!

  • This was very noble indeed! Now if others stopped being so stingy and followed suit!.

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