The City Colleges of Chicago, which has seen steady declines in student enrollment, raised tuition this year to shore up the community college network’s finances but continued to add new non-classroom administrators and to give raises to others.
Among those getting a boost in pay: Cheryl Hyman, the system’s chancellor, who was given a one-time $35,000 bonus by the City Colleges board for “meritorious service” without any formal evaluation, public discussion or vote.
With a salary of $250,000 a year even without the bonus, Hyman is paid far more than her boss, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who makes roughly $216,000 a year.
Though Hyman had no experience in higher education, Mayor Richard M. Daley brought her on in 2010, and Emanuel has kept her on the job.
Hyman wouldn’t comment.
Under her leadership, records show:
• The number of City Colleges employees working in the district’s main office has grown by 25 percent in the past four years, even as the number of full- and part-time faculty members decreased by 3 percent, from 1,637 to 1,584.
• The number of administrators paid six-figure salaries went from 79 in 2011 to 114 in 2015, while the number of faculty members making salaries of $100,000 or more dropped from 35 to 23 — though officials say more than 100 instructors will reach six figures thanks to stipends for extra work.
• Spending on administrative staff increased from $40 million in 2010 to $47.5 million in 2015 and is projected to hit $53 million in the school system’s new budget.
• During the same period, the amount spent on the seven City Colleges campuses – including classroom instruction and support services such as tutoring and advising, among other things – rose by 4.5 percent, from $219 million to $229 million.
• Since 2011, enrollment has fallen by 16 percent — from 119,000 students to about 100,000.
• Tuition was raised this year by $200 to $250 per class to bring in an additional $12 million.
About 60 percent of the City Colleges’ $700 million annual budget — about $400 million — comes from local, state or federal funding. The rest comes from tuition, fees and money borrowed through the bond market to pay for capital projects.
City Colleges officials say hiring and salary decisions are intended to continue improvements in student learning and performance. They point to achievements such as higher graduation rates — up from 7 percent in 2011 to 14 percent in 2014.
The community college system’s main initiative, called Reinvention, involves consolidating programs onto particular campuses and helping students stay on a path to completing a degree or certificate program.
“Since City Colleges launched the Reinvention in 2010, we have made strategic investments at both the district office and college level to improve student outcomes,” according to a statement from City Colleges.
The $5 million-a-year department leading the Reinvention initiative is the Office of Strategy and Institutional Intelligence. That’s one of the key drivers behind the increase in administrative spending.
Rasmus Lynnerup, formerly of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, leads the department, making $174,000 a year. Lynnerup had no comment.
City Colleges board members, who are appointed by the mayor, also declined to comment.
The union representing adjunct faculty members, who are in the midst of contract negotiations, wants to see more investment in the classroom rather than administration.
“’Reinvention’ is supposed to be putting money into the classroom,” says Bill Silver, an organizer with the Illinois Education Association, which represents the part-time instructors. “Why is it going to administrators’ pockets?”
Ald. Will Burns, chairman of the Chicago City Council’s education committee, says there’s a need “for competitive salaries for leaders of government agencies” but also says City Colleges officials need to be mindful that these are “difficult economic times.”