Even as they dealt with student protests over economic inequities and rising tuition costs, the University of California regents this week approved salary raises of between 6.4% and 23% for 12 highly ranked administrators and attorneys, most of whom now earn more than $200,000 a year.
The action has renewed debate about the university's efforts to retain what it describes as important talent while it seeks more state funding and considers further fee increases. Coming as Occupy protests disrupted the regents meeting, the raises struck some critics of UC as inappropriate and likely to anger taxpayers and legislators.
The dozen new base salaries range from $165,000 for a UC Santa Cruz dean to $553,500 for Vincent L. Johnson, chief operating officer for UC Davis hospital and health system. Johnson's raise, funded by medical center revenue and not state funds, partly countered a much higher offer he reportedly received from another hospital. Other raises came in response to expanded job responsibilities and to surveys showing that UC often pays below national averages for similar jobs, officials said.
UC President Mark. G. Yudof and other UC leaders defended the raises, saying that even during an economic crisis the 10-campus university system with 180,000 employees needs to retain and recruit top staff and faculty. The increases avoid higher replacement salaries in a competitive marketplace and the costs of lost expertise, they said.