RG Editorial Board argues UO President is paid enough, already

12/17/2014 update:  The Johnson Hall central administration wants to argue we need to pay a lot to get a President, so that they can use that salary when justifying their own raises. Search firms have their own incentives. They are getting some pushback from the RG’s Editorial Board. Read it all here:

… The UO’s last president, Michael Gottfredson, was paid $544,000 a year plus a variety of attractive perks. … Most public members of the elite Association of American Universities in the West paid their presidents less in 2013 than Gottfredson received — an average of $387,000 at the five University of California system AAU members, and $422,333 at the University of Colorado. The University of Arizona was in the same ballpark as the UO. The outlier is the University of Washington, which paid $770,000, according to the Chronicle. The figures include deferred compensation, bonuses and retirement pay.

Yet some trustees are concerned that the UO will not be able to attract a suitable candidate at Gottfredson’s salary level, and are talking about some combination of pay and benefits in the $600,000 to $800,000 range. Connie Ballmer, who heads the board’s presidential search committee, said it’s “crystal clear from the search firm that we are way low.”

That depends on what the firm is searching for. At their first meeting trustees spoke as though the UO would need to persuade a talented leader to leave a secure and well-paid position to come to Eugene. That’s not necessarily the case. The UO’s next president could be, and perhaps should be, someone who hasn’t already broken into the academic big leagues — an ambitious administrator who sees an opportunity to make his or her mark at the UO.

… And then there’s that element of populism mentioned by Hart. As a public university, the UO should avoid offending public sensibilities with a presidential salary like that of a corporate CEO. The UO faculty and staff, on whose work any president’s success will depend, have long been underpaid relative to their peers, and should not be made to feel that the president is subject to a different set of expectations. Pushing the presidential salary into the stratosphere would be neither necessary nor politic.

If the board does this, they’ll presumably say it will be paid out of Foundation funds, as they did for Frohnmayer’s raises. I’m not sure why they think this makes it any more acceptable, but Lillis also made a point of noting this for Gottfredson’s $940K buyout.

12/15/2014:  Job #1 for new UO Board: Pay president 150% of comparators, and faculty 88%?

President Lariviere famously said that for him, job #1 was to get UO faculty salaries to the average of our AAU comparators. He meant it, he gave out raises, and a year or so later the OUS Board fired him. That was one step in the process that led to legislative approval of a new independent UO board.

So what is job #1 for that new UO Board? Shift UO’s scarce resources to the faculty, or keep spending them on administrative bloat?

That’s the question raised during Friday’s meeting of the UO Board’s Presidential Factors Committee, chaired by UO Trustee Ginevra Ralph.

Diane Dietz has the story in the RG, here:

University of Oregon trustees are mulling whether to use the tools of business to recruit, sign and retain a new president to run the UO.

They’re kicking around ideas such as a signing bonus, pay-for-performance compensation, use of a jet for work trips, penalties for early departure and/or deferred compensation — perhaps totaling $600,000 to $800,000 annually. That would handily top the $544,000 annual package of previous president Michael Gottfredson.

“Clearly, (incentives are) used in worlds we come from,” said Connie Ballmer, chairwoman of the UO Board of Trustees’ presidential search committee.

Gottfredson’s pay rate won’t get a top-caliber candidate to the UO, she said. It’s “crystal clear from the search firm that we are way low,” she said.

Trustee Susan Gary, a law professor who represents faculty on the UO Board, suggests a more earth-bound approach, such as scaling the president’s pay to faculty salaries, which average roughly $100,000 a year.

Despite Lariviere’s efforts, and the efforts of the new UO faculty union, UO faculty salaries are still at the bottom of the AAU, while UO’s Senior Administrators continue to pile on the pork:

UO’s Institutional Research office has posted the comparison of UO salaries to AAU averages,  by department and rank, here. Who is at the absolute bottom? I’m no economist, but it’s UO Economics, at 74%:

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 8.34.18 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 8.34.34 PM

OK, I’m exaggerating. There are a few small departments at 73%, and a few others tied for 74%. But whatever – UO administrators are doing more than fine:

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27 Responses to RG Editorial Board argues UO President is paid enough, already

  1. Leporello says:

    One wonders, why is Michael Moffitt doing so poorly? He seems to be well connected, yet he is only making 94% compared to the average. Plus, he’s the most under par for all the deans/admins. Imagine he and Jamie struggling along on less than 600K per year…must be rough.

  2. Three-Toe Sloth says:

    But we are not the Howeitat…

  3. Standing on the shoulders of giants, and on the heads of faculty and staff. says:

    What’s the problem? Just the other day in the Register Guard, Coltrane pointed out that faculty salaries are not a problem because “professors aren’t paid that much”. Sounds like he’ll be staying the course….a course that happens to pay him 150% But let’s not forget the incredible tactical prowess and wisdom that our well paid admins deployed during the recent crisis…er…crises. Only several hundred thousand dollars to destroy trust and goodwill during the longest graduate strike in history, line the pockets of outside lawyers and ultimately cave in to reasonable demands. You can’t get performance like that for market rates.

  4. In The Know says:

    One of the big reasons The Hat got canned was because those faculty raises blew things up at the SEIU table. The Gov, DAS and OUS were trying to hold the line with SEIU on raises and were telling them there was no money for raises and no one was getting any. in fact, Chancellor had promises from the Presidents that they had not given any raises and so he told that to the Gov…we all know that wasn’t true. SEIU found out and lost their minds at the table and we all know how the story ended. The Hat told Chancellor Pernsteiner who told the Gov that no raises had been given. Raises has, in fact, been given, so to to pay the piper the Hat had to go.

    • Three-Toed Sloth says:

      How then did the OSU Prez manage to give raises and not get sacked?

      • In The Know says:

        As I can’t edit the comment I made earlier I guess I could have been more explicit. The Presidents promised the Chancellor that there were no raises the Chancellor didn’t know about and that weren’t public knowledge, so to speak. The Chancellor was told there weren’t any that fit that. The Chancellor told the Governor, who I am told sleeps with SEIU purple jammies. The union found out about the U of O raises and went nuts at the table. That trickled to the Governor, who went to George and said What’s Up With That! The Hat paid the price.

  5. Friend says:

    What’s interesting to me is how poorly this positions us to negotiate. We have the board saying “yeah, our compensation is too low.” Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t (my money is on “it isn’t”) but why would you go on the record with that?

  6. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    (For the umpteenth time, it’s total compensation, not salary, that is relevant) —

    BUT — this sounds like a terrible idea, paying way above par to hire a “star” president. I get it as well as anyone that they must pay competitive salary/benefit package. But do they have to be way above? This is the place that took a strike to keep GTF benefits under control? They really need a corporate jet? Will that really do much for the teaching and research at UO?

    Was UO really so bad off with modestly paid presidents like Olum, Brand, and yes, Dave Frohnmayer? Has the move to high-profile presidents really worked out so well? I have in mind Larivierre, Berdahl, Gottfredson. By comparison, modest insiders like Dave and Scott look pretty good in comparison. I never thought I would say that, but there it is.

    Do they need a high-flying-prez to raise the $2billion? I think not, all they need — and all that will work, prez or not — is for Phil and Connie/Steve to get out the checkbooks and sign away a modes part of their fortunes. They don’t need a trophy prez to buff their egos to do that. As someone once said, just do it!

    This outside corporate board is looking more and more like a tin-eared wonder. What works for Microsoft (which truth be told has been a stagnant performer now for a decade or two) may not work for a university.

    I would be quite happy to see faculty compensation in the middle of the AAU publics. I think it is closer than many faculty realize. I would also be quite happy to see admin compensation in the middle of the AAU publics. I suspect it is already there or above.

    The way for the board to attract a high-class pres is (1) stop hiring people who will later need to be dumped and (2) hire people who can uplift the academic standing of the teaching, research, faculty, and students of UO.

    There are plenty of public campuses e.g. a half dozen or so to the south that set a pretty good example. I remember when UCSB and UO were on a very similar level. Now there is absolutely no comparison especially in the sciences. UCSB did what it, as far as I can tell, without high-flying pres pay packages. I would like to see UO do as well.

    • reason vs image says:

      Did UO need a Jock Box and Football Bunker worth millions more than stated? Was it reasonable to have the Foundation backstop a bid for the World Outdoor T and F, let alone make the bid?

      You are talking about people who “need” to have the things they work on “look good” and set a certain image tone. And if they (whoever they are) can penny pinch on a medical leave fund in order to look tough against unions, or for fair wages in other countries, they’ll do it. Academics clearly has the back seat.

      • Old Grey Mare says:

        Remember what Socrates said about athletes in the Apology: “they give you (Athens) the appearance of success; I give you the reality.”

        Alas, the argument didn’t work for that audience.

      • honest Uncle Bernie says:

        Well look at how the Jock Box has improved academic performance among UO athletes, in fact throughout the University. And at least, it was built on prime land that would have been wasted on something like a new science building if athletics hadn’t come along and demanded that it be put to better use.

        And, you can’t say that Ducks football isn’t doing well.

        They must be doing something right!

        • that effing Dog again says:

          show me the data that shows this improved performance for student athletes. I know in my own classes I see two things since the Jock Box was built

          1) Performance has maintained the same average level as pre-JB
          2) More and more of their homework is being completed and done by tutors and not the actual student athletes

          • anonymous says:

            by the Dog! I think Uncle does parody so subtly that even a UO full professor can be deceived.

    • UO graduate says:

      Graduation at UCSB 2001 held outdoors…but of course in those surroundings…Science Graduation (open to any graduate) was led by the Chancellor…Chinese guy who was a Bio Chemist or the like…excited about all the science kids and he had on stage with him the Nobel Laureates from UCSB 3 or 4 in the Sciences at that time I believe…of course it went on forever for there were a ton of kids…

      Had somebody, a science guy from MIT? give a speech about something…surf’s up, but the focus was on academics…of course they get the best students…and one can not beat the environment at UC Irvine or San Diego…

  7. Old Man and Search Firms says:

    Connie Ballmer says: It’s “crystal clear from the search firm that we are way low.” . Some experienced folks recognize search firms as a form of racketeering. I hope the Board has other sources of information and other search strategies.

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      the search firm may get a % of the compensation package — hence, in their interest to jack it up?

      If UO is uncompetitive, it’s because of its miserable record of handling presidents especially recently, and it’s decades-old record of academic penury and low aspirations — not its pres compensation package, which sure looks pretty competitive to me, and in line (or above) with public campuses that are greatly outperforming us.

    • uomatters says:

      Bob Berdahl seems to be giving (selling?) the board advice as well, perhaps through his consulting gig with AGB.

      Berdahl has a bad track record on these things. UO just paid his protege Mike Gottfredson $940K to leave, and the woman he recommended for the University of Hawaii presidency (MRC Greenwood, his provost at Berkeley) also crashed and burned, asking for $2M to leave.


  8. another friend says:

    The last chart would be even more effective if it reflected the raises received by OA’s.

  9. haha says:

    I’d be fine with the UO president getting a raise, if we peg our salaries to his or hers.

    I think the best admins aren’t in this for the money. The best ones want a legacy and actually believe in higher education and view their employment as service.

  10. UO grad says:

    I know the ideal candidate for the UO presidency. He has a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford, is the former Provost of a large BIG10 university, has 10 years successful experience as a state university president which is his state’s real flagship university, is well regarded by the faculty, and has demonstrated success working with his state’s executive and legislative branches and with alumni. As a bonus, moving costs for the UO would be minimal as he’s currently located only about 45 miles north of the UO campus.

  11. Upset Student says:

    “Chief Athletics Administrator 465,000 + 7,000 stipend add-ons”
    “Dean, Graduate School 200,000 + 0 stipend add-ons”

    Something’s wrong right there.

    • Anonymous UO Alum says:

      The board is probably looking at paying big bucks for a new prez in
      order to provide some headroom for increasing the salaries of top
      Athletic Dept admins. Further, given UO’s emphasis on athletics
      and the decline in academics, it takes more $$$ to get somebody
      to come here. After all, what top academic admin would want to
      come to a university that clearly emphasizes athletics over
      academics? And the way things are now, if by some miracle the
      UO board did hire somebody that wants to steer the UO ship
      towards academics and away from athletics, how long would that
      prez last? The big donors would block such a hire. But if they
      were unsuccessful they’d be working overtime to sabotage that

      Geez, if the salary goes high enough, even Rudy Crew might want
      to come back to Oregon…

      With the way things are going with this UO board, there is no way
      UO will become another UCSB, with six Nobel laureates. Quite an
      accomplishment for UCSB from the dark days of the 1970 Isla
      Vista riots with the Bank of America burning.

  12. uomatters says:

    And I thought I was a cynic! I don’t think the board wants to destroy academics, they’ve just somehow convinced themselves that big-time athletics is good for the whole university. We need to convince them that things have gone a bit too far.

    • Anonymous UO Alum says:

      UOM could point out to the UO board, admins, and donors
      that UCSB hasn’t had a football team since 1992. Yet look how
      well UCSB has done academically since then without big bucks
      football — holding them back!. Of course, that would be like
      trying to convince Republicans that low worker-bee wages and
      big tax breaks for the corporations and the wealthy 1-percenters
      are not necessary for the country’s economic growth….