University president takes $90,000 pay cut to give workers a raise

Raymond Burse

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) – A university president, who says he has worked hard to get where he is in life, is putting his money where his mouth is.

Raymond Burse, who is the interim president of Kentucky State University, announced that he is taking a $90,000 pay cut so that 24 low wage workers on campus can earn $10.25 an hour.

“I did it to bring the lowest wage employees up to a level where I think they should be,” said Burse. “These are the people who work hard and make the place look good.”

Many of the workers, including custodians, grounds keepers and clerical workers, are earning $7.25 an hour.

Burse, whose annual income is about $350,000, said he thought about the decision before bringing it to the university’s board.

He says he never meant to get attention for a move he thought was just the right thing to do.

Burse says he worked several minimum wage jobs growing up.

He was the youngest of 13 children, whose father only made it through the 3rd grade and mother only made it through the 7th grade.

“My parents taught me that with hard work and education, you can excel in the world,” he said.

Eventually, he graduated from Harvard Law School and became a Rhodes Scholar.

He was president of Kentucky State University for seven years before leaving to practice law.

He then became an executive at General Electric for 17 years before retiring.

Burse then got an offer from the university’s board to come back on an interim basis.

When asked about his decision, he said, “I can afford to do it.”