Elon Musk has made a name for himself as an innovative entrepreneur in banking (PayPal), cars (Tesla Motors), rocketry (SpaceX), and alternative energy (SolarCity). He's a very driven, very smart man. He's a billionaire, the 20th richest person in Los Angeles. But at today's California Institute of Technology graduation is Pasadena, he was surrounded by more brainpower than even he's used to, and it was humbling.
Musk's commencement address capped an impressive few months for the CEO. The model for the Tony Stark character played by Robert Downey, Jr. in the "Iron Man" and "Avengers" movies just completed the first successful commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. In a week, Tesla will begin deliveries of its Model S sedan. He's on a roll.
But so is Caltech. So the 526 graduates of the 2012 class at all academic levels were ready to receive Musk's inspiration and wisdom. He didn't disappoint. "You guys are the magicians of the 21st century," he said. "Don't let anything hold you back. Go out there and make some magic."
Chronicle of Higher Education
Two California colleges pay their professors top 20 salaries.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, California has two colleges in the top 20 of average faculty compensation for 2011-12.
Full professors at Caltech make $172,800 per year, while full profs at UCLA make $162,600.
This puts full professors at both admittedly quote prestigious institutions at or very near the highest U.S. income quintile, as defined by the Tax Policy Center.
For the record, both California schools are in the lower half of the top 20. Harvard is number one, with full professors who earn $198,400.
I was curious about which schools full professors finished at the bottom of the survey. That would be Villa Maria College of Buffalo, at $42,200. Strangely, associate professors there make $49,300. Things get weird at the bottom. However, these professors are still solidly in the third U.S. income quintile. They're also right about at the median for U.S. individual wages, roughly $44,000.