Amidst prioritization in the University of Alaska system, the UA Board of Regents have offered the president of the UA system, Pat Gamble, a $320,000. The bonus was included in Pat Gamble’s contract extension that the Board of Regent’s created in June of this year. Since word of the bonus has gotten out outrage has been apparent, with faculty and students alike upset that during times of budget cuts the UA President is receiving a bonus that matches his annual salary.
In response the UA Board of Regents Chair, Pat Jacobson, sent students and faculty a message via the UA Outreach notification system on August 27 explaining the reasoning behind the bonus. Jacobson explains that the bonus was offered to Gamble as a means to keep him around to continue to improve the UA system. Jacobson also talks about how Gamble’s salary doesn’t match the salaries of administrators in similar roles across the U.S. and how the bonus will make the position and salary more competitive.
According to Jacobson, the bonus will only be given if Gamble remains the UA President until 2016 when his contract ends. During this time the Board of Regents may still terminate him at any time and if he is terminated the bonus will be proportionally deducted.
The reasons are summed up by Jacobson as the following, “Quite simply, the Board of Regents believes it is in the best interests of Alaska’s university system to retain President Gamble’s leadership through this period of challenge and change. It is also important to offer the system president a compensation package that can compete with the national market now and with future presidents. Leading the UA System is a complex endeavor, and attracting and retaining top-caliber talent is important. With the current salary significantly under market, and given the board’s desire to retain our current president, a performance-based retention incentive was seen as striking a reasonable balance while addressing our broader concerns.”
United Academics president Abel Bult-Ito, who represents UA faculty, responded to the letter asserting that the Board of Regents were not at all justified in approving a bonus for Gamble. The response also states that because a bonus was not on the Board of Regents agenda that no public comment could be made and the Board of Regents was wrong in moving forward with the bonus without commentary. The response also makes it clear that Bult-Ito believes that nothing Pat Gamble has done has been above and beyond his job duties.
“As the president of the University of Alaska, this is a normal expectation of performance not meriting any special recognition,” said Bult-Ito. The same line was repeated in the response three times about Gamble’s so-called exceptional achievements as president of UA. Bult-Ito continued and said, “The actions of the (Board of Regents), awarding this bonus to President Gamble and failing to offer reasonable justifications for it, suggest that it is out of touch with the realities faced by many UA students and with the academic mission of the university.”
At the last USUAA meeting on Friday August 29 they discussed Gamble’s bonus. USUAA Senator and pre-nursing student Dylan Lance said USUAA wanted to know where the money for the bonus is coming from. He said that USUAA wouldn’t support the bonus if the funds were coming from money that is supposed to be for students.
Students in attendance at the meeting had similar sentiments as USUAA delegates.
“On the one hand I think it’s an effort by the board to make sure he is paid for what he does on a somewhat similar level to other universities,” said Jonathon Taylor, political science major and president of the College Republicans at UAA, who was in attendance at the USUAA meeting. “…At the same time I would like to know where the money came from because I feel like as the university is going through reprioritization it’s probably a good thing for the students to know where that money would have gone otherwise if it hadn’t been used for a bonus.”
USUAA and students currently await a response from the UA Board or Regents on where the money for Pat Gamble’s bonus is to be taken from.