University President Donates $90,000 of Salary #Leadership

University President Donates $90,000 of Salary #Leadership


Raymond Burse, interim president of Kentucky State University, did something I have never heard of before. He donated $90,000 of his own salary to ensure all minimum wage workers on campus received raises of $3 an hour from $7.10 an hour to $10.10 an hour.  Mr. Burse was quoted as saying, “I wanted to do something meaningful. I wanted our employees to know that they are an important part of what we do.”

Mr. Burse was Preisdent of Kentucky State University during the 1980’s and agreed to return to the university to get their finances in order. When he learned that many of the university employees were making the Federal minimum wage, and he learned that the university didn’t have the finances to rectify the situation, he volunteered to sacrifice his own wages. “These are the workers who do the heavy lifting,” Burse said, indicating that they deserve better.

Joe’s Perspective #1: Flat out, this is a cool thing. His actions demonstrate tremendous leadership. I know he is not the only one. Companies have profit sharing. Wealthy CEO’s and Presidents have declined salaries or donated large portions of their income to charity. Still, his actions are probably the exception and not the rule. I do hope that it might inspire other executives to provide similar gestures. I know I have never paid an employee a minimum wage and I never intend to do so. I too want employees to feel valued and respected. I also make certain that our UPS driver, trash collector, paper delivery person and everyone who services our company receives Christmas gifts to let them know that their work is appreciated.

Joe’s Perspective #2:  There might be some skeptics out there who say, “Here is a rich guy who had all the money he could ever use and gave some of his already absorbent salary to a few employees to provide them an almost-livable-wage. Big deal!” To that I say, “Hogwash.” You can always find the greedy, callus, uncaring individuals, but you can also find those kind-hearted individuals who give back freely without the government telling them to share the wealth.  Remember, Americans freely provided over $300 billion dollars to charitable organizations last year. So, whether you end up being a “1 percenter” or someone who works for minimum wage – I hope that you end up with a giving heart, not a greedy one.

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