When he spoke to Western Kentucky University faculty and staff during the Convocation in August, President Timothy Caboni addressed the big red elephant in the room.
Compared to its peer institutions, WKU had work to do to make its pay more competitive, with many senior faculty and staff reporting salary “compression” issues – essentially that their wages had not kept up with even what less experienced employees make.
With that in mind, Caboni introduced his fix, or at least a modest first step toward a fix.
“Let me be clear: We will have a 2% raise pool this year. Because of your performance, because of the investment from the state legislature and because of a modest tuition increase, we are able to provide this pool,” Caboni said.
Caboni told faculty and staff gathered in WKU’s Van Meter Hall at the time that WKU was “committed to continuing this progress,” in the years to come “regularly and consistently.”
But now, as faculty and staff look forward to a 1.5% salary increase effective Jan. 1, many campus administrators are set to see much bigger pay raises, provided they win final approval from the university’s Board of Regents on Friday.
Administrators cash in
A full list of the personnel items up for board approval Friday, sourced from the board’s meeting agenda, are available online with this story at bgdailynews.com.
Some of the largest jumps in pay are listed under the “reclassification” action, which occurs when “an employee’s job title, salary grade and/or salary are changed as the result of a material increase in duties/responsibilities.”
These actions can be found on pages 34 through 36 of the lengthy personnel items document.
Some of the biggest raises for administrators are as high as 35% or 50%.
Among the biggest proposed pay increases is for Ronald G. Wilson, WKU’s associate vice president of philanthropy and alumni engagement. His pay would rise from $82,944 to $124,992 under the proposed changes, translating to a 50% salary increase.
James E. Clark, a senior associate athletic director of external relations with the Hilltopper Athletic Foundation, also tends toward the top of the list. Clark’s pay would jump from $92,361.60 to $125,000, or a 35% increase.
The personnel items also include substantial increases in pay for vice presidents and directors across the university’s communications and marketing divisions, athletics and within the president’s office. Jennifer Breiwa Smith, WKU’s executive director of government and external relations, would see her salary rise from $64,464 to $90,000, for example.
These raises for campus administrators are up for final approval by WKU’s Board of Regents on Friday.
The personnel actions previously won approval from the board’s Finance and Budget Committee and will be up for a full vote by the regents Friday, WKU spokesman Jace Lux said.
“All personnel actions are subject to board approval,” Lux told the Daily News.
“The Finance and Budget Committee discussed the recommended personnel actions with the full board at their October committee meetings, at which time board members were able to seek further clarification about any of the proposed actions. Finance and Budget Committee members had the opportunity to remove any of the actions from the list, or reject the list altogether. Following that discussion, the recommendations were approved by the Finance and Budget Committee, and per university policy, were placed on the December board agenda as a consent agenda item. Friday’s meeting will be the first opportunity for the full board to vote on the proposed actions. The board still has the opportunity to remove any item from the consent agenda,” Lux said.