5 Utah college presidents say thanks, but no thanks to regents' raise

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  • Cato the Elder Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 24, 2011 4:38 p.m.

    The enormous advantage to taking it and donating it is fivefold:

    1) They may just make the donation in year 1, but the raise is ongoing. They may not make an offsetting donation in future years.

    2) They can supplant other charitable donations they made last year, or were planning to make this year. It is possible that the offsetting donation equal to the salary increase will be offset or partially offset by a reduction in other charitable giving.

    3) The salary boost will be factored into retirement calculations and increases, regardless of whether there is an equivalent charitable deduction.

    4) They might be getting a fringe benefit that is a percentage of salary that will go up, such as a contribution to a 401(k) or similar type account.

    5) If future salary increases are based on percentages, they will have a higher base salary.

  • Cambrai Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 21, 2011 8:28 p.m.

    Ricardo Carvalho - please stop sharing misinformation.

    While the data I cite are a matter of public record, you requested sources, so here they are:

    Salary data comes from the Utah System of Higher Education.

    University Rankings come from USNews and World Report, one of the most revered sources of academic rankings. Your assertion that "open admissions universities do not appear in the rankings" is utterly false. Weber State is an open admissions university and appears in the rankings at #76 for Regional Universities in the Western U.S., which is 5 points below SUU's #71 ranking.

    Open admissions universities (like UVU) means all applicants are accepted...not exactly synonymous with academic rigor.

    One factual inaccuracy in my previous post was my categorization of UVU as a "Regional University". USNews actually classifies UVU (and Dixie) as "Regional Colleges", a category below SUU and Weber. Even so, UVU and Dixie failed to garner a ranking in this lesser classification, behind such academic powerhouses as East Texas Baptist University, Montana Tech, and Trinity Lutheran University. (No kidding...look it up!) Thank you for pointing out this egregious error in my previous post!

    We should reward universities for academic excellence, not inflated enrollments!

  • Ricardo Carvalho Provo, UT
    Sept. 21, 2011 4:37 p.m.

    Cambrai - please stop sharing misinformation. You do not cite a source on the salary figures you offer. Second, UVU is an open admissions university. Open admissions universities do not appear in the rankings you cite as per US News and World Report policy.

  • Montana Mormon Miles City, MT
    Sept. 21, 2011 1:07 p.m.

    Vanka, I agree with you 100%. In Montana, when the presidents of the University of Montana and Montana State University retired, the Montana Board of Regents had to pay salaries that were, I don't remember the exact number, in the neighborhood of $50K higher than the outgoing presidents had been making. It is a real dilemma for the hiring authorities to attract and retain high-quality leaders when they can't compete with comparable institutions in other states. It's the sad reality, like it or not, as you have stated.

  • kcmannn Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 21, 2011 12:18 p.m.

    The actual problem goes far past the school presidents. They are ALL top heavy with administration. For heaven sake, look at Utah's Right to Know. Just take SLCC as an example. Sort by pay and you will see that you have to go through the first hundred or so people before you find anyone who teaches. What a farce these institutions have set up. Someone should get rid of all that bureaucracy and replace it with more good teachers..

  • screenname Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 21, 2011 11:21 a.m.

    Vanka, I seriously doubt you would have the same feelings if the board of directors of a private company decided it was not paying its CEO enough.

    Regardless, the position is funded by taxpayer money; as taxpayers, we have some say in it. It's not unreasonable to suggest that the government follow the same pattern as private companies in a recession--namely, to cut back on raises until times are better. Besides, Utah has continually proven that throwing money at a problem (or position) does not always bring better results.

  • FDRfan safety dictates, ID
    Sept. 21, 2011 10:51 a.m.

    I am truly grateful for this sacrifice. There is still plenty of hope in the dignity of man.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Sept. 21, 2011 10:21 a.m.

    Personally, I don't care what might have been the motivation behind turning down the pay raises. The end result is - it was probably the right thing to do. Perhaps we should allow people to do the right things even if the motives are not clear or are skewed somehow. I just think that if we arrive at the right point, then lets be grateful for that.

    The CEO of our local power company is compensated to the tune of about $4 million a year with salary, company stock and perks. Personally, I don't care if he is "worth it", the fact is that my electric bill keeps rising, we are struggling greatly in this economy. Granted, were he to donate 50% or even 75% of his salary to struggling rate payers it wouldn't go far. That's not the point. It is a gesture of good will in a struggling economy that speaks volumes.

  • Cambrai Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 21, 2011 10:12 a.m.

    Just last week, US News issued its annual rankings for institutions of higher education throughout the country. It is worth noting that Southern Utah University was ranked #71 amongst regional universities in the Western US. Weber State ranked five places behind SUU at #76 and US News determined that Utah Valley University did not even warrant a ranking, nor did Dixie State College.

    Given these rankings, it is disappointing to see that the Regents have chosen to compensate these Presidents based on the size of their institutions' enrollment rather than quality of the education these institutions provide. This decision is misguided, myopic, and does very little to promote exceptional education within the system. Rather, the Regents sent a clear message that they would prefer the State of Utah to be known as a degree mill instead of as a state of extraordinary educational institutions. Specifically, the Presidents pay is:

    Weber - $210,000
    UVU - $205,000
    SLCC - $200,000
    SUU - $200,000
    Dixie - $180,000

    SUU offers 10 Masters Degrees, while UVU offers only 3 Masters Degrees. These institutions are hardly academic peers.

    Bottom Line: The Regents should promote quality and academic integrity and not ballooned enrollment.

  • XelaDave Salem, UT
    Sept. 21, 2011 9:40 a.m.

    My faith in at least a few of the Pres. in the system is bolstered- yet as the person I am- I must wonder- without such public outcry would any have considered taking the actions reported here- also- gave up rather small sums of cash (in relation to salary) and got huge political upswing for it- seems like a cheap way to gain favor- but as noted I do applaud their actions and appreciate the gesture- it was the right thing to do

  • thunderbolt Dutch John, UT
    Sept. 21, 2011 9:34 a.m.

    It is an obscenity, that the Regents gave this raise at this time! Thankfully, the recipients of this largess reject the raise. But they reject it for the wrong reason. They are "... fearing it would create sour feelings among staff and faculty who haven't seen a pay raise ..." and "alienate state lawmakers ..." Do any of these yokels think of the tax payers? Families are struggling to make mortgage payments, people are losing their homes, there is a recession (rather a Depression) going on, jobs are scarce. Now is not the time for the arristocracy to confiscate taxpayer's money to give extravagant pay increases to the elite.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Sept. 21, 2011 8:37 a.m.

    I think there is more going on here than meets the eye. In the long term, for the future of Utah higher education, it is essential that we hire excellent Presidents. We cannot do that if we cannot offer them competitive salaries. Based on real data and facts, the Regents recognized that Utah Presidents were Underpaid by as much as 30%. U.ofU. Is currently searching for a new President. How can they get the high quality President they need and deserve without competitive pay? The Regents did the Right thing here. That some Presidents have allowed naive public outcry to embarrass them over justified compensation is the problem. It devalues the importance of the work they do and the importance of higher education to this state and the country. It is an unfortunate concession to naive whiners who blame anyone and everyone for their woes. University Presidents did not bring about this economic mess. Criticizing them for receiving an unsolicited pay raise that strategically positions Utah higher Ed for the future is foolish and naive.

    How many of you complain about the unholy salaries paid to head football coaches?

  • watchman Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 21, 2011 8:12 a.m.

    Kudos to the college presidents for understanding the present day situation better than the 'upper-crust' members of the Regents.

    With so many people out of work and the increases in college tuition it was ridiculous for the Board of Regents to make this decision to give college presidents increases in salaries.

    The Regents must be up in the night.

  • Nayajja Ephraim, UT
    Sept. 21, 2011 7:51 a.m.

    @DN Subscriber:
    There is no tax benefit to receiving a raise and donating it all to a charity!

    The tax you are "saving" by the deduction is the tax on the additional money you were paid, not on a penny more.

    Say you received $100 and the tax rate on that additional $100 was 30%. Net cash in pocket = $70. If you donated the $100, you would give up $100 cash, but would not get the $30 tax break. After tax cost to you = $70. You get no benefit--it is exactly as though you never received the raise.

    In reality, if you are in a tax bracket where the deductibility of donations are limited, it would cost you money.

    Net effect on all parties involved (assuming no ceiling on deducibility):

    State of Utah: -$100
    College Pres: $0
    Charity: +$100
    Fed Gov't: $0

  • Ricardo Carvalho Provo, UT
    Sept. 21, 2011 6:50 a.m.

    DN subscriber might think about the tax issue in the following manner. Matt Holland gets a $7,000 raise on which he would pay taxes. By donating the $7,000 back to UVU, he gets a tax break equal to the amount he would have been taxed creating a net gain of zero. Donating the raise to UVU simply takes his taxable income back to where it was before the raise. He gets no personal gain from the situation.

    I am wondering why the President of the largest public university in the state is getting a raise that is, apparently, the lowest in the State.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    Sept. 20, 2011 11:03 p.m.

    For those who think it is "so noble" to not take the pay for themselves but donate it to a scholarship fund, they ARE taking the money and then just giving it to someopne else. The taxpayers are STILL ON THE HOOK FOR THE RAISES. That's like Rep Matheson not taking his congressional pay raises...they still come out of the US Treasury and then he donates them to a charity. He doesn't refuse the money. As pointed out by another person, they can then declare that donation on their personal income taxes. To turn down the money, they need to refuse it in the first place. If you gave me half of your salary Uncle Sam would still tax you on the entire amount. So while this "noble act" is a help to those less fortunate, it still costs the taxpayers the money, which can't be used for something else, like human services or corrections or K-12 education, or.....

    Sept. 20, 2011 10:06 p.m.


    I can understand your point of view, I respect that.

    @DN subscriber

    a few things first only two of the presidents took the money and donated it the rest just turned it down outright. secondly I would suspect (don't know because I am not them) that the presidents that did take it and donate it would argue they thought it would do a greater good to donate it to a scholarship then to send it back to the government to waste. Lastly I think your point that they do still gain some benefit in terms of a tax deduction is a far one.

  • joy Logan, UT
    Sept. 20, 2011 9:33 p.m.

    I don't understand them taking the money and then donating it. They could of easily donated $7,000. out of their pockets before the raise. Donating it is the same as taking it as far as I'm concerned. Don't take it and let it go back into the budget for programs that are truly needed. I'm sure the Board of Regents is shocked that they gave money which they probably had to find to begin with for what they thought was a good thing only to find they don't have the money and the raises served little purpose. What's the requirement for being of the Board of Regents? It obviously isn't common sense.

  • Montana Mormon Miles City, MT
    Sept. 20, 2011 9:17 p.m.

    This is random, I realize, but I found this tidbit of information interesting. According to Utah's Right to Know website, Matthew Holland makes around $126K as the UVU President. The VP of Academic Affairs makes just under $174K and the Associate VP of Academic Affairs makes around $137K. A "Distinguished Professor" is listed at $155K. I realize there are many factors involved that would account for the +disparity between what the university president makes (and yes, the president receives perquisites that the others don't receive), but I did find it interesting that he has direct reports, and beyond, who make more than he does.

  • owlmaster2 Kaysville, UT
    Sept. 20, 2011 9:00 p.m.

    So how about our fantastic, gifted legislators give up their health benefits and full retirement after 8 elected years on the 45 day a year job and put that money into education.

  • Freedom-In-Danger WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Sept. 20, 2011 7:56 p.m.

    I suppose I don't really fit the scenario either way. I didn't really criticize any individual or group directly. I only vocalized my frustration with certain positions getting what I considered unreasonable compensation for their work. I did not actually make reference for blaming anyone. I typically believe that when things are awry, it is usually the people/masses to blame.

    I wouldn't hold it against them. If someone is offered a raise, the offer should be met. Whether the raise was warranted is then the fault of the board and those who the board is accountable to.

    In the end, my biggest concern isn't even the board or the salary. I'm only upset at how education funds are spent and how it impacts students and those who are supporting the students.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 20, 2011 7:27 p.m.

    As one of "those posters" I am donating any meals of crow to the charity of my choice.

    I applaud the Presidents who have declined the raises. However, it is not totally without financial benefit to them. I believe that they will be allowed to deduct the value of their contributions to charities or scholarship funds. That translates into a tax deduction of about 28-33% of the contribution. (You know, like those "evil rich guys" use to avoid paying "their fair share.")

    Let's hope the stragglers are just slow to choose a charity, not hoping to slip the raise in their pocket if the public looses interest.

    And, how many of the Presidents would have declined the raises if there had not been the public and legislative outcry over their unwarranted raises in tough economic times?

    Sept. 20, 2011 7:03 p.m.


    So you do realize the board of regents and the university presidents are not the same people right? therefore it would be hard for the presidents to do anything before the regents acted and people began their criticisms. If you only criticized the board then I think you where not out of line but if you are one of the many that went after the university presidents then I stick by my original comment.

  • Freedom-In-Danger WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Sept. 20, 2011 6:32 p.m.

    Phranc, I was one of "those posters" and I have a hard time understanding your crticism.

    Think of it like a crime. Man gets away with fraud- society complains- man is arrested. I don't feel the need to comment about it any more.

    Since when are we obligated to spend our time 'after the fact' in praising people for doing something that should have been done anyway (especially when they probably wouldn't have without our initially concern over this issue)?

    I'm happy they did, really. But if they wanted or deserved any praise for this, they should have done it of their own accord and not as a reaction to criticism.

  • EJM Herriman, UT
    Sept. 20, 2011 5:54 p.m.

    Phranc: Amen.

    Sept. 20, 2011 5:38 p.m.

    I have to wonder where all those posters that railed again the university presidents when the DN posted the story about the regents giving the raise have gone? I hope that crow is tasty.