Regents approve salary increases for university chiefs; hefty ones for some

Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little on Thursday got a 1.8 percent salary increase, while her counterpart at Kansas State got a 14.3 percent hike.

Why? Because Kansas State President Kirk Schulz was one of three chief executives of regents universities to receive a hefty “market adjustment” from the Kansas Board of Regents.

“We all believe we have great university leaders at our regents institutions,” said Regent Fred Logan Jr. of Leawood as he laid out the plan.

All of the school leaders received the 1.8 percent cost of living increase.

But the regents also provided “market adjustments,” ranging from 12.2 percent to 14.7 percent, for the heads of Kansas State, Fort Hays State and Pittsburg State. Under the pay plan, K-State’s Schulz will see a $50,500 annual increase, while Gray-Little’s dollar increase was $7,650. Gray-Little’s salary cap, however, is still more than Schulz’s.

In addition, Steve Scott, president of Pittsburg State University, will receive a 14.7 percent market increase and Ed Hammond, president of Fort Hays State, 12.2 percent.

Prior to the action, the board had not granted salary increases to the heads of regents schools since 2009 as the state has struggled with the recession.

The increases will take effect Jan. 1 and will be paid through a combination of public and private, endowment funds. But how much will be state dollars and how much private, hasn’t been worked out yet, Regent Chairman Ed McKechnie of Arcadia said. Essentially, what the regents did was increase the salary cap for the chief executive officers.

The method of payment was criticized by Regent Tim Emert of Independence who was the lone opponent of the plan, which was approved 8-1.

Emert said the raises should be paid with state dollars, and not placed on the backs of students, through tuition and foundation funds.

“The state Legislature and governor, for some reason, refuse to step up to the plate and reward excellence,” Emert said.

Emert also said he was concerned about the employees who are not getting raises. “All the people keeping the engines running are not receiving increases,” he said.

But Christine Downey-Schmidt of Inman voted for the increase, saying that it was one way to provide raises. “It seems we have asked more and more and more from these presidents and the chancellor. We are asking more, we ought to be able to deliver,” she said.

Gray-Little’s increase will put her salary cap, which includes state and endowment funding, at $432,650, an increase of $7,650 from her current cap of $425,000.

Regents members said the fact that Gray-Little did not get a market adjustment was not a reflection on what they thought of her job performance. They said the 1.8 percent increase represented a cost of living increase and should be interpreted as being a vote of confidence.

Logan said the market adjustments were needed because those presidents who received them were being paid much less than their peers.

He said the 1.8 percent increase “was not pro forma. It is a vote of confidence.”

The regents are currently searching for a new president at Emporia State, and Wichita State President Don Beggs, who is leaving next year, received a 1.8 percent cost of living increase.

The board also is considering establishing a merit system pool to provide up to 3 percent increases for the chief executives in the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2012.

Regents members met several times in closed session to discuss CEO salaries.

The current and increased salaries, which include state and private funds, under the regents vote are as follows:

• Beggs, WSU, $277,160 to $282,150 (No market adjustment; 1.8 percent cost of living increase).

• Gray-Little, KU, $425,000 to $432,650 (No market adjustment; 1.8 percent cost of living increase).

• Schulz, KSU, $350,000 to $400,050 (12.5 percent market adjustment and 1.8 percent cost of living increase).

• Hammond, FHSU, $222,860 to $255,200 (12.2 percent market adjustment and 1.8 percent cost of living increase).

• Scott, PSU, $213,200 to $248,378 (14.7 percent market adjustment and 1.8 percent cost of living increase).

• ESU to be determined.

By Scott Rothschild

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