UA Spokeswoman Kate Ripley said in an email that President Gamble’s performance has been “exemplary,” noting in particular a “new spirit of teamwork and collaboration between campuses.”
Though many have raised eyebrows at Gamble’s pay raise after one year, his average salary is still below the national average for university presidents, according to Ripley.
“Following the board’s motion, the new salary is $320,075, about 76.5 percent of what the university considers the target market,” Ripley said.
BOR established a “target market” after comparing itself to 17 other peer universities.
The salary surveys were sent to universities ranging from the University of Florida and Iowa to Colorado and Oregon.
Out of 17 schools, 12 replied with information of their system president’s salaries. The median or “middle of the pack” was $418,300 annually.
Fuller Cowell, chairman of the Board of Regents, outlined what a UA president does and why it is appropriate to raise the salary.
“The President of the University is the Chief Executive Officer, if you will, of a very highly complex organization…When you are paying for labor, whatever that labor is, or for any commodity for that matter, in the economy, you have to look at market prices for those items to determine what is, and what isn’t appropriate,” Cowell said.
Yet the raise is not typical for others on the university’s payroll. According to a UA in Review report, in the past 10 years, the highest increase staff received was 4.5 percent in 2009. Earlier this year, student employees received a 50-cent raise.
Cowell said Gamble’s pay raise remains justifiable.
“President Gamble doesn’t have any kind of bonus arrangement. This is his total financial package,” Cowell said.
A New Budget
Along with the pay raise, board members approved a new budget for the university system, which has a “maintain and renew” policy on current projects.
Set by the governor’s office, the “Hold the Line Budget” aims to maintain fiscal discipline by channeling funding from other areas to the most important aspects of the UA system. Ripley said that this increases as salary increases.
In what President Gamble refers to as a “strategic pause,” the focus of the new budget will go toward many objectives, including limiting growth of new programs and focusing on cost containment in high demand programs, such as engineering and teacher education.
“We try to be responsive to the state,” says Fuller Cowell. “There’s been tremendous growth in the engineering department.”
The goal is to improve on what the UA system already has, according to the Sept. 22 agenda.
Normally when money is involved, students are the first to notice, but the USUAA was void of any student voice.
“I didn’t know about this issue beforehand,” says USUAA Senator Ashley Vanderwall. “So I don’t feel like it’s right to speak about it now considering I haven’t heard any students’ opinions on it.”