Signatures are piling up on a petition targeted at former Brandeis University President Jehuda Reinharz. More than 1,000 students, alumni and other community members have expressed disapproval of the at least $1.4 million he has received since stepping down from his presidential post at the end of 2010.

Reinharz pocketed more than $600,000 in salary and benefits in 2011, according to the Boston Globe — a colossal figure that doesn’t factor in the $800,000 Reinharz earned in his new job as president of longtime Brandeis benefactor the Mandel Foundation.

“At a time when Brandeis is raising tuition, squeezing staff and relying on poorly-paid adjuncts, this sort of behavior is unacceptable,” wrote petitioners.

Brandeis now charges nearly $60,000 a year for tuition, room and board. What’s more, borrowers countrywide are currently graduating with, on average, more than $26,000 in debt.

Reinharz told the Boston Globe he deserves the post-presidential pay, claiming he raised more money for Brandeis during his 16-year tenure than all previous presidents combined.

Proponents argue, however:

Although recent fundraising has been successful, it has distorted institutional priorities and over-committed us to failed strategies. Excessive executive compensation is the equivalent of investing for the long-term in a limited network of donors and foundations. We have built “prestigious” buildings and new centers and schools while the rest of our physical infrastructure crumbles and tuition skyrockets. Students take on more debt, but have fewer chances to find work. Academic and service workers shoulder more burdens, but their pay has stagnated.

The blatant inequality has struck a nerve, and protesters have asked Brandeis’s Board of Trustees to be more transparent regarding the past, current and future salaries of their executives. They have also proposed a rather unique alternative to executives’ compensation:

Tie the complete compensation packages of past, current and future executives to compensation for the lowest-paid full-time worker employed by the University. The complete annual compensation of the highest-paid employees of the University should be no more than fifteen times the complete annual compensation of the lowest-paid full-time employee of the University.

Adjunct faculty are pocketing roughly $2,700 per three-credit course, according to the American Association of University Professors. At four courses per semester, their salary is ringing in at $21,600 annually. Beyond less pay, part-time professors also aren’t guaranteed employment.

So, after hearing Reinharz tell the Boston Globe, “I don’t punch a clock. I work when my work is needed,” the outrage is hard to argue.

Image via Brandeis