Twelve UNC system chancellors are getting raises ranging from 8 percent to 19 percent.
Randy Woodson, chancellor of N.C. State University, received a 13 percent salary hike – or $70,000 – which will bring his base pay to $590,000. During the summer, he was given a four-year deal and a compensation package with an annual stipend of $200,000 paid by private funds at NCSU, plus the possibility of performance bonuses. He is the highest paid chancellor and the only one with a contract.
Other chancellors in the Triangle also received substantial pay bumps. UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt received a raise of 9.6 percent – or $50,000 – bringing her base pay to $570,000. N.C. Central University Chancellor Debra Saunders-White got a $45,000 raise – almost 16 percent – bringing her annual pay to $330,000.
The raises, funded with state money, are retroactive to July 1.
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The figures were released Monday by the university system, three days after a closed-door vote by the UNC Board of Governors. Last week, university officials would not release the information, saying that the chancellors hadn’t yet been informed of the board’s action. Reporters from several media outlets objected, contending the vote in closed session violated North Carolina’s Open Meetings Law.
The move to boost executive pay comes as university employees and faculty received a one-time $750 bonus but no raises this year. At the same time, executive salaries and tuition are climbing at the nation’s public universities.
Andrew Perrin, a UNC-Chapel Hill sociology professor, said there’s a “huge discrepancy between these very large raises for chancellors and virtually no raises” for faculty and staff.
“Even just the optics of that are a little tough to get beyond,” Perrin said. “The other dimension that worries me about it is that this is another example of a Board of Governors that just doesn't seem to get it. That’s something that many of us are very anxious about.”
Earlier this year, the UNC board voted to increase the pay ranges for chancellors, the president and top administrators. The decision followed a study by Buck Consultants, a firm that concluded that UNC system salary levels were below the market for “top tier” executive talent.
In June, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a report on compensation of public university presidents, based on 2014 data. Two presidents earned more than $1 million in total compensation, and 16 earned more than $600,000 in base pay. The median salary was $428,250 among 238 public university chiefs, according to the Chronicle.
A UNC system explanation of the raises called them “market adjustments” that better align chancellor salaries with the competition. G.A. Sywassink, chairman of the board’s personnel and tenure committee, said after the vote that the raises were justified. “We thought that we needed to be fair and honest with the chancellors we have,” he said.
The largest percentage increases went to UNC Charlotte Chancellor Phil Dubois, East Carolina University Chancellor Steve Ballard and Western Carolina University Chancellor David Belcher. Dubois and Ballard are the most senior chancellors, who have been on the job for a decade; Ballard is retiring next year. Belcher was hired in 2011.
Five chancellors did not receive raises, including four hired in the past year. A fifth, James Anderson, chancellor of Fayetteville State University, received a pay raise of $85,000 in January.
UNC Asheville Chancellor Mary Grant, who was hired in January, still received a $40,000 increase – nearly 16 percent – lifting her base pay to $295,000.
The next UNC system president will be among the highest-paid system presidents in the United States.
The board recently hired former U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings at a base salary of $775,000, which is $175,000 more than the current president, Tom Ross, earns. Spellings will also be in line for incentive bonuses if she meets as-yet-undetermined performance goals.
Chancellors and the president live in university houses and have car allowances. When they step down, they are typically given paid leave for a year and a position on the faculty.
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