UW regent committee OKs new salary ranges
- Article by: DINESH RAMDE
- Associated Press
- October 10, 2013 - 6:20 PM
SOMERS, Wis. — The next president of the University of Wisconsin System could make almost $600,000 per year, and salary ranges could increase substantially for other top positions, under a series of proposals passed Thursday by the Board of Regents' business and finance committee.
Several committee members were concerned about how legislators and members of the public would react to their decision but said they had little choice if they wanted to keep attracting top talent.
Regent Jan Mueller said that some people might ask, "Why now?"
But she said that she's been a part of recruiting committees that had to work hard to bring in and retain the best in the business.
"I never liked the phrase 'horns of a dilemma,' — it sounds painful — but I think that's what we're facing now," she said. "There's an arms-race equivalent for salaries."
The proposal, which the full board will consider Friday, means incoming officials could make substantially more than their predecessors. For example, UW System President Kevin Reilly, who is leaving his position at the end of the year, makes $418,000. His replacement could make anywhere from $399,000 to $598,500 under the new plan.
Other top positions would also become more lucrative. The UW-Milwaukee chancellor position, with a current salary range of $297,000 to $363,000, would expand to a range of $304,000 to $456,000. The maximum pay for UW-Madison's chancellor would go from $522,500 to about $584,000.
The regents noted that many pay ranges haven't been adjusted for five years or more.
The system's compensation formula is based on average salaries for similar positions at peer institutions. Previously, pay could range from 90 percent to 110 percent of an adjusted midpoint. The range now expands from 80 percent to 120 percent.
"So there could, in fact, be a lower salary offer," Regent Margaret Farrow said.
Regent Gerald Whitburn, who chairs the finance committee, said top academic officials at Ohio State and Penn State make $2 million to $3 million. He said it was imperative that the UW System not get as carried away but said it was equally imperative that it not underfund its top posts.
The new ranges apply to new hires. Existing administrators could be in line for raises within the updated ranges, but that would require a separate board action.
In other action, the finance committee also approved a tentative policy spelling out how much cash campuses should keep on hand. The move became necessary after news broke this spring that the system built up massive reserves even while hiking tuition for six straight years.
The new plan would require campuses to maintain reserves of at least 10 percent, and they'd have to justify reserves above 15 percent.
Farrow suggested revisiting those percentages in coming years to make sure they were still applicable. UW System vice president David Miller said that the regents will receive regular reports that will allow them to re-evaluate as necessary.
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