Top administrators at Eastern Washington University are receiving pay raises despite a two-year legislative freeze on salaries above $45,000 a year.
President Mark Drummond said the raises were given in 1993 and 1994 to compensate top officials for promotions and increased workloads.
The university has undergone a reorganization in the past two years with several administrative posts being combined to save money.
But faculty leaders are questioning the tactics.
“I feel it is unfair,” said Professor Jeff Corkill, who heads the faculty organization on campus. “I don’t think it washes particularly well with the faculty.”
Corkill’s and other professors’ salaries were frozen by the Legislature in 1993 as part of an effort to balance the state budget.
The freeze applies to anyone making more than $45,000 a year, but it is expected to be lifted in July.
In comparison, some administrators have received salary raises of $6,500 to $10,000 since 1992.
The average faculty salary is about $49,000 a year. That includes pay for summer teaching. Top teaching salaries go as high as $65,000 to $70,000.
Drummond said he doesn’t be lieve the salary freeze was intended to prevent raises for promotions.
“They (legislators) didn’t tell us we couldn’t give people new jobs,” Drummond said.
Mike Bigelow, senior budget assistant in the state Office of Financial Management, said Drummond is right. Promotions are a legitimate reason for raises, he said.
The controversy over salaries comes at a time when Eastern is facing pressures to economize.
The Legislature cut $1 million from the university’s $52 million budget this year, and a similar cut is possible next year.
The university is operating with virtually the same amount of state funding and tuition that it got in 1991, but has been forced to absorb at least 9 percent higher costs, Drummond said.
The result has been the elimination of 128 staff positions.
Of the 87 jobs eliminated since 1993, 12 have been administrative, Drummond said.
To trim its budget further, EWU cut two colleges - fine arts and health, social and public services. Those programs were transferred to other parts of the university.
About $300,000 will be saved, and the money will be used mostly to hire more faculty, said Mike Stewart, vice provost for finance.
In other cuts, the job of executive vice president of student services and finances was eliminated.
Finance duties were transferred to Provost James Hoffman. As a result, Hoffman’s salary went from $92,673 in 1992 to $99,109 last year.
Jane Johnson was assigned responsibility for student affairs in addition to her job as development director. Her salary went from $83,513 in 1992 to $93,833 last year.
Former Spokane city manager Terry Novak saw his salary increase when he was assigned as a dean and department chairman. He earned $79,413 in 1992, and $85,751 in 1994. He now is working as temporary director of the Joint Center for Higher Education, which oversees SIRTI and the development of a Riverpoint branch campus.
Novak also receives a $557-a-month pension from the city.
Some officials got raises when they went from teaching to administration. Barbara Miller’s salary was $45,735 in 1992 when she was a professor, but went to $85,726 last year after she became dean of the fine arts college. She now is helping with the merger of the college of fine arts with the college of letters and sciences.
Drummond’s salary increased between 1992 and 1994. He went from $129,937 to $146,556. In 1993, Drummond’s contract with the board of trustees allowed for a $21,000 payment to reward him for staying three years as president. That boosted his 1993 salary to $161,141, he said. Drummond’s salary includes a $24,000 annual payment to maintain his home for university social events.
Nationally, the average salary for presidents of universities like Eastern is $117,000, not counting a housing allowance.
Many universities provide the president with a home. EWU formerly had a presidential home, but it was sold by the university under Drummond’s direction.
The controversy over administrative pay caught the eye of House Speaker Clyde Ballard, who recently asked Drummond and Washington’s other state university presidents to justify salary spending.
In a letter to Ballard, Drummond pointed out the university’s average faculty salary will decrease next year because EWU is trading higher-cost tenured positions for lower-paying teaching jobs.
Drummond said he is concerned Eastern’s ability to attract highquality teachers is slipping. “We can no longer be competitive with the national salaries of our faculty peers,” Drummond said in the letter.
Faculty members are hoping the Legislature grants them a 3 percent salary increase this year.
Even so, they aren’t pleased with the growing discrepancy between their pay and that of administrators.
“Everybody on campus knows the administrators get paid well,” said Corkill.