Bowing to pressure from the governor, the Utah State Board of Regents has rescinded pay hikes it awarded last month to college and university presidents in an effort to bring compensation in line with their out-of-state peers.
Gov. Gary Herbert last week asked regents to wait until Regents complete a comprehensive survey of presidential salaries to decide on increases, while some legislative leaders castigated the pay hikes.
Regents chairman David Jordan promptly gathered the board for a special meeting Monday. Without discussion, regents unanimously agreed to suspend the $100,000 in pay hikes they approved on Sept. 16 for the eight campus leaders, who Jordan has said are poorly paid relative to national averages. Most of the raises this year would have been diverted to scholarship funds because many of the presidents were not inclined to take pay hikes while their colleagues’ salaries remain frozen and their campuses slash budgets.
The proposed presidential pay hikes aren’t designed to reward sitting presidents, but to ensure Utah schools can compete for national-caliber administrative talent, according to Jordan. Regents say they are competing with other states and Utah’s low pay scale puts them at a disadvantage in recruiting campus leaders, particularly for the state’s two big research institutions. A search is now under way to find a successor to Michael Young as University of Utah president.