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Academia calls
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Ever wonder why college tuition is going up so rapidly while the economy is in the doldrums and inflation is non-existent?

I read recently that many presidents of private colleges make more than $1 million a year. College trustees and search consultants say there are fewer people seeking the top jobs in academia and finding the right candidate is getting more and more difficult.

Can’t figure that out. Being president of a college seems like a pretty darned good gig, and if they’re going to give you a million bucks a year, it becomes even better.

One thing’s for sure: being involved with a college or university is sort of the ultimate don’t-live-in-the-real-world job. They have this little ivy-covered cocoon where they reside, insulated from the realities of day-to-day America.

Of course they have their own lingo. In fact, experts say one of the reasons college presidents are in short supply is because provosts aren’t as interested as they used to be in occupying the top position.

Provosts? That’s a fancy word for chief academic officer, the people-in-waiting who have traditionally ascended to become president. Why can’t they just call them vice presidents, huh?

And another thing: most people who apply for a job in the real world submit a resume,  listing all the positions they’ve held and a few references to call.

In academia, resumes aren’t called resumes. They’re called CVs, which is Latin for Curriculum Vitae, which in English means “long and boring.”

In real life, my resume would list the fact that I write this column. In the academic world, my CV would list every column I’ve ever written. It might even list the people who called me up because they were angry over something I had written.

Anyway, I’m willing to throw my hat in the ring for a college presidency. There are lots of perks other than a million dollars a year.

You get to wear a robe around at graduation and sit on the stage. Wearing a bow tie is chic.

You usually get a big house with oak trees, smack in the middle of campus, which is a good thing until over-imbibed students knock on your door at midnight to tell you what the school is doing wrong.

Everybody calls you “Doctor” when you’re the president of a university. I was never much of a student, and the idea of spending several years earning a doctorate degree was out of the question. But presidents of universities are always giving each other honorary doctorates. It’s sort of like a little club – you give me one and next year I’ll give you one.

You don’t have to buy much food if you’re a college president, either, because you’re always getting invited somewhere for dinner.  I guess people think if you’ve made your way to that position, you must be a heck of a conversationalist.

If you like to travel, then being president of a university is a really good deal. Academic people love to have conventions, except they call them “conferences” instead of conventions because that sounds more like they’re working.

And you’ll never find a “conference” taking place in Pittsburgh or Dubuque or Newark. Nah, they choose places like Palm Springs and Scottsdale and Amelia Island. I guess the scenery helps them think.

If you’re the president of a large university like South Carolina or Clemson, you get great football tickets, too. Most schools have a president’s box where the top person gets to sit, and if the game’s not going well, you can go to the buffet table to snack a little bit.

You think the president of USC is having to surf the Internet trying to buy some of those $500 secondary-market tickets for the SEC championship game? No way.

So anyway, I’m getting my CV all ready, listing all the magazines I’ve ever read (I’m going to leave out Penthouse) and planning on my first honorary degree.

Only thing is, I don’t have any experience as a provost. But I look darned spiffy in a robe.