In September 2008, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents unanimously approved a salary equity initiative designed to enhance the university’s ability to attract and retain top leadership talent.
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The initiative, supported entirely by private funds allocated to the university by the University of Nebraska Foundation, was intended to align the salaries of the system president and the campus chancellors with the average of their peers over a two-year implementation period. At the time the initiative was adopted, base salaries for senior administrators at the University of Nebraska were up to 31 percent behind the midpoint. Even after the implementation of the first phase, salaries for NU’s leaders were up to 16.5 percent behind peers. The first half of the plan was implemented in 2008, but at the request of President Milliken, the second half was suspended in 2009 and 2010 during the height of the economic recession. Chairman Bob Whitehouse said the Board is fully implementing the equity initiative this year.
“The Board of Regents voted unanimously in 2008 to address equity issues for its leadership and the Board has always intended to honor that important commitment,” Whitehouse said. “We reluctantly agreed to delay the second half of the initiative the last two years—even though doing so had no impact on the university’s operating budget. While we appreciate the fact that the university leadership took no salary increase in the last two years, the clear intent of the Board of Regents was only to delay implementation. We plan to implement the second half of the equity adjustment in 2011 to honor our commitment and help assure that the university does not fall even further behind the peers and can remain competitive for top talent.”
Whitehouse said that on behalf of the Board, he sought and received a unanimous commitment from the University of Nebraska Foundation Board to provide the private funds necessary to fully implement the salary equity initiative.
“Donors have a strong interest in maintaining the momentum at the university that has been achieved in recent years,” said Nancy Keegan, chair of the Foundation’s Board. “The president and chancellors have been instrumental in the success of the Campaign for Nebraska, which has now raised over $1 billion to support students, faculty, academic programs and facilities on the four campuses of the University of Nebraska. The Foundation Board believes strong leadership is the key to success of the university, and is pleased to provide financial support to help insure the fair and competitive compensation of senior administrators.” Private support for public universities such as the University of Nebraska is commonplace. Nearly one-third of all full-time professors, and some athletic coaches, benefit from private financial support also.
The salaries of the university’s senior leadership have not increased since FY 2008-09. For the third consecutive year, the president and the chancellors have asked not to be awarded annual raises from the university’s state-aided budget in FY 2011-12, in spite of the fact that the operating budget approved by the Board in June established a 2.5% salary pool to be awarded to university employees on the basis of merit and competitiveness. Those public funds, approximately $35,000, will be available to meet other budget obligations.
Whitehouse said the long-standing compensation philosophy of the Board of Regents has been to advocate for faculty, staff and administrative salaries at the midpoint of peers to help assure successful recruiting and retention.
“The University of Nebraska does not strive or expect to be among the highest-paying public universities,” Whitehouse said. “Our goal is to be reasonably competitive—the average of our peers—and we know we will have to be when we go into the market for new leadership. The Board of Regents felt it was appropriate to address the salary disparity while we have excellent leadership in place. We want to be fair to those who hold the positions now, and to make it attractive for them to remain at Nebraska. And we want to ensure that salary competitiveness at our university will not be a barrier to attracting top candidates for these critical leadership positions in the future.”
The FY 2011-12 public and privately-funded salaries of the president and chancellors are as follows:
University of Nebraska at Omaha Chancellor John Christensen: $262,309 University of Nebraska at Kearney Chancellor Doug Kristensen: $226,003 University of Nebraska Medical Center Chancellor Harold Maurer: $434,956 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman: $333,271 University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken: $411,370
Annual Personnel Rosters containing the salaries for all university employees are available on the University of Nebraska’s website, www.nebraska.edu.