The raises come after the Oct. 23 announcement naming Margaret Spellings as the new UNC-system president. Spellings’ starting base salary was revealed to be $775,000 — $175,000 more than outgoing system President Tom Ross.
The board has been under scrutiny following its handling of Spellings’ appointment due to the secrecy of the search. The decision to give raises was also done in a closed meeting.
Charles Streeter, chairperson of the UNC-CH Employee Forum, said if the closed meeting’s agenda had been known ahead of time, he thinks there would have been protests.
“I’m not going to say that they would be right or wrong but there definitely would have been folks that would have been opposed to (the raises),” Streeter said.
Chancellor Carol Folt received a $50,000 raise, a 9.6 percent increase from her current base salary of $520,000.
Board member Marty Kotis said while he could not comment on the discussions the board had in the closed-door session, he disapproved of the raises.
“For me at least, and I cannot speak for other board members, until tuition is under control, I have concerns with any significant pay increases for top administrators, unless the raises are tied to incentive pay and metrics, or unless the raises are part of an overall raise that includes staff and faculty,” Kotis said.
Zack King, Association of Student Government president and a non-voting board member, said he couldn’t disclose the board’s reasoning, but said the increase was necessary.
“We have to keep talent in our system,” King said. “I think the biggest thing that defines the campuses besides students are their chancellors. They can kind of light the fire under the student body.”
King said he understands the announcement may be criticized, but he thinks the decision was in the best interest of UNC-system students.
“There are a lot of people who were hired under Tom Ross and others, and we don’t want to lose them,” King said.
The raises contrast with the $750 one-time bonus for all state employees, including university employees, announced by the legislature in August.
Streeter said he recognizes the raises and the bonus were decided by different groups, but thinks employees are equally worthy of raises.
“I think what’s at the heart of it is, if you can give money and you can give these significant increases to people that are at the top tier, then what about the people in the middle and especially at the bottom,” he said.