MADISON—In the wake of public and political concerns about the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents’ adjustment of leadership salary ranges, Board President Toby E. Marcovich and UW System President Katharine C. Lyall said they will seek recommendations from national search consultants before making any changes to the current pay rates of UW System leaders.
“It is important to clarify that no pay raises were given to top university executives last week,” Marcovich explained.
“The Regents acted to update the ranges so that searches for two new chancellors could get underway,” added Marcovich. “Our board remains fully committed to paying the salaries required to be competitive in a national market for leaders who will keep the University of Wisconsin among the top academic and research universities in the nation, just as we are committed to keeping our faculty and academic staff pay competitive.”
While no pay raises were granted to the 35 members of the university’s leadership team last week, Lyall and Marcovich will seek recommendations from university search consultants, who have not yet been identified, to advise them by the beginning of October on current market conditions and determine whether the salary ranges are appropriate in today’s market.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that we have the best people we can get at the helm of our institutions, especially during these challenging times,” Marcovich said.
Lyall said she would wait to make any pay raise decisions until after reviewing the consultants’ recommendations with the Board of Regents. At the same time, she noted that when faculty and academic staff members received 2.1 percent pay raises in January, the executive salary group received no pay raises because of the tough budget times.
Lyall noted the loss of two of the university’s most prominent chancellors—Nancy Zimpher and Thomas George—who will receive significant salary increases in their new jobs.
Zimpher, who was paid $219,550 as chancellor of UW-Milwaukee, will earn $280,000 and receive a deferred-compensation package as president of another urban university, the University of Cincinnati. George went from earning $160,000 as UW-Stevens Point chancellor to $250,000 as chancellor of the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
“Our Regents are dedicated to recruiting the best faculty, staff and students to the UW System,” said Marcovich, “and we are no less committed to recruiting the best university leaders. It is possible that the consultants might recommend we pay above the minimum of the ranges for our top leaders.”
He noted that many of the current chancellors were recruited from top posts at universities outside the state of Wisconsin and that the UW System must be able to compete for talent in the national marketplace.
“These are jobs that require extraordinary skills—management talent, fund-raising ability, community leadership and the ability to lead diverse university communities to achieve common goals for the state of Wisconsin,” he said.
Marcovich applauded the chancellors for managing deep budget cuts this year while maintaining current enrollment levels, deeply cutting administrative costs and preserving, as best they could, academic programs and student services.