Wis. GOP lawmaker criticizes UW System pay plan
- Article by: DINESH RAMDE
- Associated Press
- October 11, 2013 - 2:35 PM
MILWAUKEE — The University of Wisconsin System's board of regents on Friday approved large increases in the pay ranges for certain top positions, drawing swift criticism from a top Republican lawmaker.
Several regents acknowledged that the new pay scales may lead to public backlash, but they said they have to be able to offer competitive salaries when recruiting top talent.
New hires for top posts could be in line to make some especially lucrative salaries. For example, the outgoing UW System president makes $418,000. Under the new plan his replacement could make anywhere from $399,000 to $598,500.
"Leaders matter," said Regent Gerald Whitburn, who chairs the regents' finance committee. "Part of our job is to do everything we can to ensure this system maintains its excellence and is at the top of the list nationally."
The updated pay scales apply to positions including chancellor, vice chancellor and provost. In some cases, the new adjustments represent significant changes.
The UW-Milwaukee chancellor position, which carried a salary of $297,000 to $363,000, will now pay $304,000 to $456,000. The maximum pay for UW-Madison's chancellor would go from $522,500 to about $584,000.
The regents' finance committee approved the changes Thursday, after which the entire board went into closed session to approve pay raises for 10 UW chancellors. The raises, which ranged from $6,000 to $10,500 apiece, totaled $80,000.
Republican state Rep. Stephen Nass, who chairs the Assembly's committee on higher education, said he was angered by the new plan. He said it shows that the regents are out of touch and looking out for the best interests of an "administrative elite," instead of Wisconsin taxpayers.
"This is a clear case of not being willing to walk the talk on fiscal responsibility," he said in a statement.
UW System spokesman David Giroux said the new ranges shouldn't be taken out of context. Even with Thursday's raises, he said, UW chancellors make about 15 percent less on average than their peers at comparable institutions.
He also noted that Thursday's raises brought the chancellors' salaries nowhere near the upper ranges.
For example, the largest raise went to UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joseph Gow. His salary rose $10,000, or 5 percent, to $210,000. The new salary range for his position is $205,000 to about $308,000.
"The state statutes require that the board of regents set these salary ranges based on market data," Giroux said. "And that's what they did. We didn't pull any numbers out of thin air — we set these ranges based on established peer groups."
The updated pay scales will apply to new hires. Existing administrators could be in line for raises within the updated ranges, but that would require a separate board action.
© 2013 Star Tribune