He received a 17 percent raise during the year of the 2001 bond election, when the school asked voters for $195 million.
The Chronicle of Higher Ed points out that compensation for community college presidents lags behind what the heads of four-year institutions tend to earn, despite their growing responsibilities, like courting major donors and lobbying legislators. The extreme exception, however, is Day, who last year ranked third nationally in earnings among 68 other community college heads.
"Do I feel guilty at all about being one of the highest-paid college presidents in the country?" Day asked the education rag's surveyors in November 2007. "Absolutely not."
His supporters argue that Day has attracted millions of new dollars from Sacramento to the district, and along with the school's trustees, he helped promote a February ballot initiative designed to ensure that a greater portion of the state's General Fund go toward community colleges. The current formula used by the state for financing two-year schools hinges on how much money is set aside for California's K12 system.
Day also took over a school with crumbling buildings, some constructed in the early 20th century. When Day inherited the more than 90-year-old John Adams Campus in the Haight, its bricks were "falling off the side of the building," he said in a glossy 12-page advertorial the college ran in the San Francisco Chronicle on Dec. 19, 2007.
The school floated two bond measures totaling about $458 million in 2001 and 2005 to complete projects citywide, but the latter was badly rushed. Poor planning and rising construction costs have forced the school to cancel projects promised to voters.
Diana Muñoz-Villanueva, a student representative on the Board of Trustees, said she lives on about $600 per month, "so I know there are ways to survive on less" than what the chancellor makes. But based on his duties, she said, "I think it's fair. I hope to make that much money someday."
Day could nonetheless be taking a substantial pay cut for his new job in Washington DC, at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. According to its tax forms, the organization's last president, Dallas Martin, who led the nonprofit for more than 30 years, earned about $250,000 during 2006 in pay and benefits.
DAY FLIPS FROM THE FRYING PAN TO THE FIRE
Chancellor Phil Day's departure from City College of San Francisco is not an indication that he's easing into retirement. Instead, he's crossing the country to join a controversy potentially hotter than anything he faced in politically rancorous San Francisco.
Day announced at the end of 2007 that he will be leaving the college in early March to accept the top job at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, one of the nation's most powerful lobbying groups on issues related to higher education.
But the Washington DC nonprofit has spent the past year mired in a nationwide scandal over how student loan administrators at individual colleges promote certain bank lenders to students in exchange for kickbacks.
Six student loan administrators were fired or resigned and dozens of schools ceased entering into revenue-sharing agreements with lenders following an extensive investigation by New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo.
Several schools agreed to reimburse borrowers i.e., college students millions of dollars as part of a series of settlements with Cuomo's office, which is still investigating how major lenders market their products to needy students.
The organization Day is poised to take over has been suffering embarrassing waves of unwanted attention as a result.