That the spouse of a college or university president almost always acts as a co-professional with the partner (especially when the spouse is a woman) is a situation that has for decades inspired questions. Should there be an additional salary for the spouse, or should this be a two-for-the-price-of-one deal?
Diana Jean Schemo took up the question (New York Times, January 11) in an article about the appointment of Robert Birgeneau to head the University of Toronto two years ago. The university board talked to his wife, saying, as board committees always do, that they hoped she would work at his side.
Then they asked something unusual: Can we pay you a salary of $40,000? The university’s surprise offer made her happy, until she read the jab in the campus newspaper, which titled its article “Marrying for Money.” “I was really humiliated, to be honest. It was a real baptism by fire,” she said.