The next University of Wisconsin System president could make nearly $600,000 under a proposal being considered by the Board of Regents.
It’s one of several university administrative hires in line for dramatic, double-digit pay increases over their predecessors in the coming years, according to the plan.
“There is a need to have market-competitive salary ranges to attract high-quality applicants for these key leadership positions,” according to the policy document explaining the changes.
To faculty and staff chronically underpaid compared with national peers, the proposal comes as a mixed bag.
“While I’m not thrilled that the Regents would do that for only top administrators, if it’s the start of a process of reviewing salary ranges for everyone, that’s great,” said Russell Dimond, a UW-Madison computing specialist who chairs a committee of academic staffers looking at policy and budgets.
The proposal would update salary ranges for top System officials and campus leaders based on peers nationally, shifting the midrange salary targets up an average of 17.5 percent. It also would significantly expand the pay ranges both up and down so Regents could consider a new campus leader’s experience level and the size and complexity of the job.
Under the updated ranges, pay for existing administrators wouldn’t immediately change provided they fall within the new ranges. New hires would benefit most.
Outgoing System president Kevin Reilly’s job would see a 25 percent bump in midrange pay. He makes $418,000 annually. His replacement would be paid between $399,000 and $598,500.
The new UW-Madison provost, expected to be hired in the next year, would see the highest bump, up 39 percent. Outgoing provost Paul DeLuca makes just more than $291,000. His successor would make between $295,369 and $443,053.
Regents president Michael Falbo said the ranges for some top administrative jobs haven’t been reviewed or adjusted in years, a result of the Regents taking a case-by-case approach to setting salaries as new jobs have come open.
“We’ve been doing this on a one-by-one basis,” he said. “It’s not an appropriate way to carry it out in the long run. We decided to review all the ranges.”
In some cases, such as when UW-Madison and UW-Eau Claire were hiring new chancellors last year, the Regents moved to update the pay ranges based on what similar universities pay their leaders nationally. It resulted in new UW-Madison chancellor Rebecca Blank earning a starting salary of $495,000, a huge raise over interim chancellor David Ward’s salary of about $366,500.
Currently, Regents pay new top administrators under a range determined by picking a midpoint salary of others in similar jobs at similar institutions nationally. They’re allowed to pay the new hire between 90 percent and 110 percent of the midpoint.
The new policy would broaden that range to between 80 percent and 120 percent. It also calls for reviewing and adjusting those ranges every two years.
“There’s never been a regular calendar by which we bring those updated ranges to the board,” said System spokesman David Giroux. “It’s been updated piecemeal over the years.”
Falbo said the proposal is one step in a larger goal to make salaries more competitive for employees of all rungs across the sprawling 26-campus system. Faculty and staff salaries significantly lag their peers nationally and a 1 percent raise this year did little to close the gap.
Regents have a somewhat limited role in the overall salary picture, being able to set salaries only for a select group of top administrators. Chancellors at some campuses, including UW-Madison, have passed measures in recent years to provide pay bumps for top-performing faculty. Other employees in the university system fall under state employee categories, getting raises only when other state employees do.
The Board of Regents will meet Thursday and Friday at UW-Parkside in Kenosha.