The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board.
In addition to tuition, Murray State relies on outside donations from alumni and former staff to keep its doors open. Some alumni, new and old, receive calls asking for donations to the University, despite already owing thousands in student loans.
Because the burden of funding the University falls largely on us, we think it is gracious that President Bob Davies, his wife Cindy and daughter Katie made a $117,000 donation gift in support of student scholarships, academic enhancements and various student needs at the University.
Davies, whose salary at Murray State is approximately $300,000, sacrificed more than a third of his yearly paycheck to support a University that he has overseen for less than one semester. This donation speaks volumes when compared to presidents of other Kentucky universities that have held their positions for years.
Western Kentucky University President Gary Ransdell donated just $5,000 to his university, which seems meager when you take his his $427,824 salary into account. He graduated from Western Kentucky in 1973 and has remained president since 1997.
Kentucky State University Interim President Raymond Burse donated more than $90,000 of his salary to raise the university employee hourly wage to $10.25 an hour. His current salary is $349,869.
Although donating to their universities is commendable, there are many perks to being a university president. Some presidents are given free housing and transportation in their contracts. This, along with a six-figure salary, should influence the donation of presidents at competitive schools.
We should feel extremely lucky to have a president who, even though he has a smaller salary than presidents at competing Kentucky colleges, believes enough in the success of this University to put a large amount of his own money on the line.
His fiscal generosity is something the University has not seen in a president since 1922 when President Rainey T. Wells fundraised approximately $117,000 from 1,100 donors.
By donating toward scholarships, Davies is relieving the student debt that many of us face.
On average, Murray State students graduate with $20,644 worth of student loan debt. Most of us rely on financial aid assistance and taking out student loans to attend college, so more opportunities for scholarships are something we are eager to see.
With more scholarship incentives, we have more chances to escape growing student loan payments. Western Kentucky’s $5,000 gift will do little to assist students who average $26,110 in debt, which is the fourth highest average debt amount behind Kentucky State, Morehead State University and Eastern Kentucky University.
Besides his donation, students on campus are used to seeing Davies involved on campus. We often see him interacting with us on campus, inviting us to luncheons at Winslow Dining Hall and attending sporting events. There was never a question that Davies strived to improve relations between himself and the student body, but his large donation is a display of his willingness to see both the University and its students succeed.