Keep the University System accountable
October 22, 2018
As both a journalist and a student, one of my primary concerns is ensuring transparency within the University administration. Every fall, The Daily Illini puts together the Salary Guide, which contains the current salaries for university employees across all three campuses to hold the University System accountable.
One of the most important things we do as journalists is keep those in power liable for their actions. We see this happening a lot at the local, state and federal levels in the government system. More often than not, journalists act as the watchdogs to keep an eye out for wrongdoings. As student-journalists at The Daily Illini, we strive for nothing less.
It’s our responsibility to maintain a system of our own checks and balances to ensure everything within the University System runs smoothly and without irresponsibility or corruption.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, we obtain the raw salaries of all System employees. Salaries are paid for in part by tuition and taxpayer dollars, which is why it is vital that students and community members understand exactly where their money is going.
University faculty and administrative officials are constantly changing positions, which can make it very difficult to keep track of their pay. The request gives us the raw sum of an employee’s salary but doesn’t include any overtime pay or mid-year promotions.
Salaries that are not included in the request are employees classified as extra help, graduate assistant, pre-doctoral fellow, academic or grad hourly, medical resident, summer appointment, student retiree or unpaid.
To some, publishing salaries may seem like an invasive feat. But in the interest of transparency and accountability, it is important to maintain this system of checks and balances and conduct a further investigation if something seems out of place.
The Daily Illini puts together both the guide and a database as part of the complete Salary Guide. The guide is meant to be a reference to showcase some of the top earners within the System, while the database is meant to be an easy-to-use forum containing the entire list of salaries.
The Salary Guide is one of the most consistently viewed pieces The Daily Illini publishes. Going through the Salary Guide can be fun — seeing just how much your professors earn — but to others, it’s a resource for comparing how much some employees earn in relation to their peers.
I encourage all campus and community members to spend time going through the Salary Guide to help keep themselves informed about where money is allocated.
As watchdogs, we do our job to ensure the rest of the University is doing theirs.
The Salary Guide can be found on the Daily Illini’s website. In addition, the entire database can be found online at salaryguide.dailyillini.com.