Regents vote to raise UA president's salary
Jeremia Schrock/Sun Star Reporter
Oct. 4, 2011
During a Sept. 23 meeting in Juneau, the University of Alaska (UA) Board of Regents voted to raise president Patrick Gamble’s salary to $320,075. The raise stems from a “new spirit of teamwork and collaboration between campuses,” according to the board’s press release. Gamble has been president of the UA system since June 1, 2010.
Gamble’s overall leadership is another reason for the raise, said Fuller Cowell, the board’s chair. For example, Gamble worked with regents to expand the engineering programs at UAF and UAA, Cowell said.
Gamble declined an interview. The pay increase wasn’t something he sought out or brought up, he said.
The raise marks an 8.5 percent increase in Gamble’s pay compared to last year. Cowell said that there was nothing significant about the percentage. “It was just kind of a general consensus,” he said.
Gamble’s pay is still below former-president Mark Hamilton’s yearly income of $370,000. Hamilton received a $300,000 salary, in addition to a $70,000 annual bonus for every year he fulfilled his contract. Gamble does not receive a bonus.
Three major universities and 12 rural campuses make the UA system logistically complex, Cowell said. “If you know what a median salary is of a complicated university system, it’s really hard to argue that president Gamble shouldn’t be making the $320,000 that the board has deemed appropriate,” he said.
The UA system traditionally pays its executives 90 percent of the market average for similar positions at other public universities, UA public affairs director Kate Ripley wrote in an email. In order to determine the market average, UA uses a salary survey provided by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR).
The average salary for presidents in university systems similar to UA was $418,300, according to the most recent CUPA-HR survey. This means that the board’s ideal salary for Gamble is $376,470, more than $50,000 above what he currently earns.
The student response at UAF has been mixed. In an unofficial survey on The Sun Star’s Facebook page, most respondents either wanted more information about what the president’s job entails or were against the raise entirely.
In the survey, general studies major Erin McGowan wrote “One word: outrage. I couldn’t spend that much money in a year if I tried. ”
Paul Pharr, a economy student, wrote that Gamble is paid less the the CEO of a successful corporation. “His job is unbearably difficult. You could not pay me any amount of money to do that,” Pharr wrote.
Out of 14 readers who commented, two supported the raise.
The UAF Staff Council spoke out against the raise. “We are upset by it,” wrote Juella Sparks, the council’s vice president, in an email interview. “We feel this way because of our history of having to advocate annually for a raise that is barely, if at all, offsetting reductions in other areas of our compensation package.”
Sparks attended the regents’ meeting and spoke on behalf of a 3.5 percent increase in staff wages. “If we continue to lose ground in our benefits, the university will lose good people and be unable to attract the same,” she said during a public testimonial.
Regents have yet to vote on a staff wage increase for the coming year. The current draft of the 2013 operating budget mentions a 2.5 percent increase. That number is a placeholder, Ripley wrote. “I don’t know exactly what will happen to that figure between now and then. It may remain the same, it may not,” she added.
“We have been losing ground in our overall benefits for a few years,” Sparks wrote. “This includes healthcare and compensation among other things.” While university employees have less health insurance coverage then in previous years, they must still pay higher premiums and deductibles. Sparks added that employees are also no longer rewarded for their length of employment with the university.
On Oct. 3, Gamble decided to donate his pay increase to student scholarships in the UA system, wrote Ripley. Details of how much money will go where have not yet been finalized.
In the future, an additional raise depends on several factors, such as the president’s performance. “It’s clear by looking at the numbers that he is still substantially below [the median],” Cowell said. “The regents are aware of that.”