OSHKOSH—Given market data and pay plan trends in neighboring states, the UW Board of Regents voted Friday (Oct. 10) to alert the Office of State Employment Relations that it will require a 4 percent pay raise in each year of this biennium to keep faculty and staff pay rates competitive with their peers.

Board members noted that any raises would depend on funding available in the money that the state has set aside in its compensation reserve. The approved motion recognized the state’s difficult funding climate but also states that tuition revenue sources or base budget reallocations couldn’t be used for this purpose (given recent steep cuts in state support and tuition caps).

This is a statement of what the needs are, noted Regent Mark Bradley, chair of the Regent’s Business and Finance Committee, but it is up to the state’s executive branch to make a formal pay plan recommendation to the Joint Committee on Employment Relations.

“At the end of the day, I want to know that we’ve been fair,” said Regent Vice President David Walsh. “We all know that the money’s not there but it is leadership to tell the state what’s needed.”

In separate action, the board rescinded its approval of new pay ranges for the 35 senior university executives and referred the issue to the Board’s Business and Finance Committee. That committee was asked to examine peer data as well as the compensation increases and trends of other state government and Wisconsin Technical College System leaders and report back to the board with a recommendation on this issue at the November board meeting.

The board also made it clear that no salary increases have been awarded to any senior executives since the Sept. 2 meeting at which they had approved new ranges. The board also revised its procedures for dealing with senior leadership salary ranges by passing a resolution requiring that from now on, they be voted on in open session by roll call vote at a regularly scheduled meeting and passed by a majority of the board.

William Funk, a national expert in college presidential recruitment, spoke to the board via telephone. He noted that many public universities are using packages to recruit and retain their leaders that go beyond salary to include such things as deferred compensation or private support to hold down costs to the state. The board committee will look at such options for the UW System as well.

“People around the country have known for a long time that Wisconsin pays below the average of its peers,” said Funk, “but campus leaders have been attracted here because of the high quality and reputation of the university system. But given the escalation of recruiting packages, I don’t know how long the university can continue to trade on that reputation.”

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Erik Christianson UW System 608-262-5061