New York University President John Sexton has decided to resign, following weeks of criticism over the lavish perks he received — including a vacation home financed with university loans.
He is set to leave NYU in 2016 — after collecting a $2.5 million bonus.
Sexton makes $1.5 million a year, and is one of the highest paid college presidents in the country. He also took advantage of a university loan program that helps top faculty and administrators afford luxurious vacation homes on New York’s Fire Island and the Hamptons.
His tenure as president was marked by a dramatic shift toward growing the business prestige of the university, as well as its physical boundaries. He has enacted a $2 billion expansion of the campus, angering residents and some faculty members, who voted “no confidence” in his leadership.
NYU’s board of trustees stressed that his decision to leave was his own, and that they remained happy with his leadership.
The loan program for vacation homes ruffled feathers after its existence was revealed in a New York Times article in June.
“It’s hard to see how the student with a lifetime of debt benefits from his university leaders’ weekend homes in the Hamptons,” said Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley in a statement about NYU’s loan program.
NYU announced last week that it would modify the loan program to only cover first homes. Faculty and administrators will no longer be allowed to finance vacation homes, according to a press release.
The high cost of attending college is an issue of increasing national concern. Both tuition rates and collective student loan debt are trending ever upward, and many say greed at the top is to blame.
“When [universities are] asking people for so much money, and they’re paying increasingly high salaries and perks, it makes donors angry; it makes students angry,” said Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, in a statement to Bloomberg.
President Obama is going on a speaking tour this week to talk to students about college affordability. Two of his stops are in New York.
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