Amid budget deficit and Shannon Miller verdict, UMD Chancellor, VP and Provost could receive pay increases

The Board of Regents is expected to make a decision on May 10 for President Eric Kaler’s recommendation to award Chancellor Lendley Black and Executive Vice President and Provost Karen Hanson with $50,000 salary increases. The rationale behind the recommendation is that Chancellor Black’s yearly compensation is $50,011 below that of others at his position in peer universities (campuses of similar size), while Hanson’s compensation is $29,856 below that of her peers. If they are approved by the Board of Regents, the salary increases would begin in June.

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With UMD facing a $5.4 million deficit going into the next fiscal year, and the recent Shannon Miller trial costing the University of Minnesota system another $3.74 million, some have questioned whether the timing of this proposal is appropriate. President-elect of the University Education Association and UMD professor Scott Laderman said that while he understands that the compensation increase was discussed before the verdict in the Miller trial, the proposal could be problematic for some.

“Politically, I think it looks bad,” Laderman said. “UMD is suffering from a budget deficit at the moment, we have faculty and staff who have lost their jobs and more that will lose their jobs certainly in the coming year, perhaps even longer, so for the Chancellor to be accepting an additional $50,000 in compensation strikes me as a bit politically tone deaf.”

Laderman clarified that he doesn’t object to people getting paid market rate salaries, but he does not like that the university starts at the top by ensuring its highest paid employees have market rate salaries.

“I can tell you that faculty salaries are at or near the bottom of salaries amongst our peer universities,” Laderman said. “It seems to me that there’s a problem when faculty are requesting that their salaries meet market rate and this would require an investment by the university, and the administration’s response is not to move in that direction.”

According to Lynne Williams, marketing and public relations director at UMD, these raises were initially discussed in the February Board of Regents meeting, before the Miller trail began. Williams said that the university has many various pots of money that oftentimes do not intertwine.

 Chancellor Black has helped to bring UMD's budget shortfall from $9.4 million in 2014 to $5.4 million. Photo courtesy UMD website.

Chancellor Black has helped to bring UMD's budget shortfall from $9.4 million in 2014 to $5.4 million. Photo courtesy UMD website.

“I understand that people have attached the timing together but these are really two completely separate processes,” Williams said. “This raise would come out of central system funding, it would not come out of UMD’s budget, so it does not expand our budget deficit nor would that necessarily be money that we would have gotten otherwise, it comes out of a central pot of money that President Kaler has to compensate his team.”

While Shannon Miller was awarded $3.74 million in her discrimination lawsuit against UMD, the risk will be spread across all five University of Minnesota campuses through the Regents of the University of Minnesota Insurance Company. According to Williams, it is expected that Bulldog athletics will cover a $10,000 deductible, which will not impact student tuition or academic programs.

As for the budget deficit, the shortfall reached as high as $9.4 million in 2014 and has since been reduced to $5.4 million. President Kaler and his direct reports, including Chancellor Black and other chancellors and vice presidents, opted not to receive their 2 percent pay increases for this year in an effort to help the budget.

“The university is mindful of our budget deficit and we’ve come a very long way and are confident that we’ll be able to continue to make progress there,” Williams said. “Chancellor Black has led the campus through some massive change over the last few years to really decline that budget deficit and when you look at where he is at compared to his peers in terms of maintaining the talent within the system, I think that’s also something to consider.”4/6/18:

Correction made on Apr. 6, 2018: Information in the first paragraph was incorrect and has been changed.

NewsTyler Schendel