Regents OK raises up to 20% for UC chancellors

Regents OK raises up to 20% for UC chancellors

The UC regents Thursday awarded pay increases of as much as 20% to the leaders of the Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Merced and Riverside campuses and set the annual salary of the new UC Irvine chancellor, Howard Gillman, at $485,000.

The regents said the raises were a first step over the next three years to bring the 10-campus heads up to nationally competitive rates of rival research institutions. Some UC chancellors had not had increases in seven years until July, when they received a 3% hike.

The pay scale is now awkwardly structured so that some veteran chancellors are paid significantly less than those who were more recently hired, the regents said.

The issue of high executive compensation at the UC and Cal State systems remains a sensitive one even as the worst of the financial crisis has eased. Gov. Jerry Brown, who is a UC regent and has been sharply critical of similar pay raises, did not attend the regents' meeting in San Francisco and his office said he had no comment Thursday on the latest action.

Gillman's $485,000 is $93,000 higher than that of predecessor Michael Drake, who recently left Irvine to head Ohio State University. Gillman, who won unanimous regents' approval as chancellor Thursday, had been UC Irvine's interim chancellor since June and came to the 29,000-student campus in Orange County as provost and executive vice chancellor a year before that.

The regents also focused on chancellors with the lowest annual salaries. They brought three of them up to $383,160, which meant 20% raises for George Blumenthal of UC Santa Cruz and Dorothy Leland of UC Merced and 5.1% for UC Riverside's Kim Wilcox; a 20% increase gives UC Santa Barbara's Henry Yang $389,340.

UC San Francisco's Sam Hawgood, who started in July, is the highest-paid UC chancellor, at $750,000. In hoping to erase disparities, regents noted that Gene Block, who came to UCLA in 2007, is paid $428,480, which is below what Gillman will be paid at a smaller campus. (In addition to salaries, chancellors receive housing or housing allowances.)

UC President Janet Napolitano discussed surveys showing that the average UC chancellor's salary is about $90,000 below public universities nationwide that are members of the elite research-oriented Assn. of American Universities and more than $350,000 below the average at such top private schools.

UC chancellors, she said, "run some of the largest higher education institutions in the country and the best higher education institutions in the country. It is my strong belief that we need to pay our chancellors within a competitive range."

The regents agreed and authorized a study on increasing all chancellors' pay to competitive levels over three years.

Not everyone was pleased. "At a time when resources are needed to prevent tuition hikes and perform much-needed safety maintenance, huge raises for UC's highest-paid executives sends the wrong message about UC's priorities to the public we are here to serve," Todd Stenhouse, a spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 3299, said later.

The union, which represents UC custodians, gardeners, medical technicians and patient care workers, settled a contract with the system earlier this year after several job walkouts and much tension.

In a related matter, Napolitano proposed streamlining the hiring of UC's highest-paid athletic coaches so quick job offers are possible. She sought to bypass traditional votes by regents, to allow chancellors to set coaches' pay below $500,000 and to allow her to approve any more lucrative contracts.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and several other regents objected to what they saw as taking important responsibility from them as UC is studying how athletes' grades and graduation rates should figure in coaches' job evaluations. In a rare instance of bucking Napolitano's lead, regents shelved the proposal for more review, possibly linking it to a study about athletes' classroom achievements.

Gillman, 55, who grew up in the San Fernando Valley and was the first in his family to attend college, said in an interview that he wanted the 50-year-old Irvine campus to keep hiring and retaining top academic talent. "This is a young campus that is incredibly accomplished but still very ambitious," he said. The school must "continue the momentum in its ascendancy."

Gillman said he would strengthen ties with the Orange County community, at the campus medical center, in business and technology partnerships, the arts and K-12 schools. "I want Orange County to feel that we are not here just for us but the reason we exist is to make a broader contribution to human well-being," he said.

larry.gordon@latimes.com

Twitter: @larrygordonlat

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