In a Year of Cuts, Some College Presidents Get a Raise

While states across the country have been slashing higher education budgets this year, a few administrators are in line for pay raises. The University of Alaska's Board of Regents unexpectedly voted 8 to 1 last Friday to give the system's second-year president, Pat Gamble, an 8.5 percent raise, the Juneau Empire reports. Board members defended the raise, saying that Gamble had been hired the previous year at a lower salary than the previous president and that even with the raise his salary was still below the median earned by comparable college presidents. Alaska is one of only eight states that increased its funding for higher education this year, according to a recent report by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Montana, on the other hand, cut its overall higher education budget by 2 percent. But   that didn't stop the Board of Regents from approving small raises last Thursday (September 22) f or faculty and administrators. Those raises will be paid for mostly with a 5 percent tuition hike that was approved last May. A faculty representative said that low salaries — which haven't been increased the previous two years — have made it difficult to recruit candidates for faculty positions. Todd Buchanan, one of the regents, voted to approve salary increases for faculty and staff but not for administrators, noting that most employees across the state aren't being given raises. "In the circles I run with, people are thankful to have a job," Buchanan told the Great Falls Tribune .

While the pay raises in Alaska and Montana haven't occasioned much comment from legislators, a proposed salary boost in Utah has been much more controversial. On September 14, the Utah Board of Regents voted to increase salaries for presidents of schools in the state university system. It said those salaries were 20 to 30 percent below the national average. The president of the University of Utah left the state last year, the Deseret News reports , for the presidency at the University of Washington, which pays $200,000 more than the Utah position. 

The increase prompted immediate outrage from some legislators. The chairman of the House Education Committee, Bill Wright, said comparisons to other states are irrelevant. "There are thousands of vocations I can think of in Utah that are under the national average," the Republican legislator told the Deseret News . In response, five of eight presidents of public colleges in Utah turned down all or part of their pay bump, with three saying they would donate the money for scholarships on campus and one saying he wouldn't accept a raise until faculty and staff received one. This week, Utah Governor Gary Herbert weighed in, asking the chairman of the Board of Regents to hold off on salary increases pending the results of a study the board had commissioned to look at salaries nationally. That report isn't due until next May. In the meantime, the Board is expected to convene a special meeting by mid-November to discuss whether to hold off on the increases.  


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