Kentucky State University's new president has given the lowest-paid workers on campus a pay raise out of his own salary. Before his contract as interim president was approved last month, Raymond Burse asked how many employees earned less than $10.25 per hour and volunteered to take a pay cut to bring their salary up to that level, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. The board agreed to cut his annual salary from $349,869 to $259,744. "This is not a publicity stunt," he says. "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." The pay raises will stay in place after he departs.
Some of the 24 workers involved, including groundskeepers and custodians, had been making the federal minimum wage of just $7.25 per hour. Burse, who was KSU president from 1982 to 1989 before becoming a general counsel at GE, says he will take more pay cuts if more workers are hired at minimum wage. Burse says he has high expectations for his staff and wanted to give them something in return, reports the Washington Post, which notes that a bill to raise Kentucky's minimum wage to $10.10 failed in the state Senate earlier this year. "I didn't have any examples of it having been done out there, and I didn't do it to be an example to anyone else," Burke says. "I did it to do right by the employees here."