MADISON, Wis. — Christmas came early for nearly a dozen University of Wisconsin System chancellors.
The Board of Regents approved lucrative raises for 10 of the 13 chancellors during a closed meeting Thursday at UW-La Crosse, saying the chancellors' salaries must remain competitive to ensure quality leaders stay in their jobs. The announcement was delayed until late Friday afternoon to give system President Ray Cross a chance to discuss the raises with each chancellor individually before they became public, system spokeswoman Heather LaRoi said.
"These are demanding jobs, and today's increases are based on merit and performance," LaRoi said in an email to The Associated Press.
UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank received a $72,668 raise, the most of any chancellor, bumping her salary to $582,617. LaRoi said regents felt she deserved it because enrollment is high at UW-Madison and she's proven herself a strong fundraiser.
UW-La Crosse's Joe Gow, UW-Whitewater's Beverly Kopper and UW-Platteville's Dennis Shields were the only three chancellors who didn't get a raise.
Gow has taken heavy criticism for inviting porn actress Nina Hartley to speak on campus last month. Cross sent a letter to Gow days after Hartley's appearance reprimanding him and warning him the move probably cost him a raise. Gow said he was simply exercising the system's free speech policies. His salary remains at $224,400.
Kopper has been embroiled in her own scandal. Cross banned her husband, Pete Hill, from campus in June in response to allegations Hill had sexually harassed several women dating back to 2015. Cross also stripped Hill of his job as associate chancellor, an unpaid position.
Kopper's salary remains at $242,760.
Shields didn't receive a raise because he got a $50,000 raise earlier this year as a counter-offer to persuade him to stay in his position, LaRoi said. Shields' salary remains at $270,000.
Other chancellors who received raises include:
—UW-Milwaukee's Mark Mone, $346,800 to $396,219.
—UW-Oshkosh's Andrew Leavitt, $244,800 to $260,000.
—UW-Eau Claire's James Schmidt, $226,644 to $258,374.
—UW-Stevens Point's Bernie Patterson, $240,356 to $254,777.
—UW-Stout's Robert Meyer and UW-Green Bay's Gary Miller, $234,600 to $253,368.
—UW-Superior's Renee Wachter, UW-Parkside's Deborah Ford and UW-River Falls' Dean Van Galen, $224,400 to $250,000.
LaRoi, the system spokeswoman, said the raises are funded primarily by redistributing former UW Colleges and UW-Extension Chancellor Cathy Sandeen's salary. Sandeen's position was eliminated this year after regents decided to merge the two-year UW Colleges with regional four-year schools, and fold UW-Extension into UW-Madison as part of a system-wide restructuring. Sandeen accepted a position as chancellor at the University of Alaska-Anchorage in May.
The raises go into effect Jan. 1.