Regents approve Yudof’s third raise

by Patrick Hayes

The Board of Regents approved a one-year contract extension through 2003 and a 3 percent pay increase for University President Mark Yudof Friday morning, further solidifying his status as the highest paid president in the Big Ten.
Yudof’s raise — his third in three years — brings his salary to $335,000 per year. In addition, the regents gave him a one-time bonus of $15,000 Friday.
Regents also added more money to his deferred compensation package, bringing the total to nearly $350,000, up from $225,000 in his last contract. They agreed to give Yudof the option of taking the first payment — $43,333 — of the deferred compensation package.
However, Yudof must stay through 2003 to receive the rest of it.
Yudof’s contract extension and raise comes on the heels of an academic year where he successfully lobbied the state Legislature for more funds and continued to deal with the hardships of the men’s basketball academic fraud scandal.
Regents approved the new contract to reward him for his ability to guide the University through the difficult year and to reflect their support for him.
“We have the best president in the country and he’s visionary, he’s genius, he’s very highly admired — not just by the Board of Regents — by the people of Minnesota,” said Regent Chairwoman Patricia Spence.
Not everyone as pleased as Regents
Although the regents were happy with Yudof’s raise, others in attendance were not quite as enthused.
Greg Knoblauch, a University veterinarian technician and member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, said he was a little disappointed the regents approved another raise for Yudof.
AFSCME union employees, which represent more than 3,000 University employees, stood in protest during the regents’ discussion of the biennial budget proposal to voice their need for more competitive wages.
About 60 clerical, technical and health care workers brandished stickers reading: “We expect respect” and “Overworked, Underpaid and Standing Up.”
The clerical union issued two editions of “Talking Paper,” the first in a series of writings that will highlight disparities they see in salaries and wages at the University.
The AFSCME employees at the University said roughly 75 percent of their workers are underpaid by industry standards. The group said most workers receive less than $15.37 an hour — an amount needed for a single parent with two children to get by, according to the 1997 Jobs Now Coalition.
The union said its workers average between $12.00 and $14.00 an hour.
“We believe that staff salaries should reflect that we support ourselves, that we’re in the work place for life as serious, committed professionals,” said Gladys McKenzie, a former University student and representative of AFSCME.
“Although our work is felt in every office, every lab, clinic and classroom of this University, … we go from our University jobs to second and even third jobs in order to pay for basic necessities,” she added.
According to the “Talking Papers,” Yudof agreed in December that $15 per hour is not a liveable wage.
Yudof acknowledged the clerical workers’ need for a more competitive salary during the biennial budget proposal, outlining plans to get more competitive wages for staff and faculty at the Legislature’s next session. He also said health insurance costs are a major concern as they have risen 23 percent since the last contract.
“The University should not be in a position of paying wages and compensation which are below a reasonable minimum,” he said.
Spence also said the union employees “need to be paid at not only the market rate but at a living wage.”
McKenzie said she was happy Yudof addressed the workers’ concerns during the regents meeting and hopes the University will get the union’s message across during the next legislative session.

— Lisa Schwartz contributed to this report.

Patrick Hayes welcomes comments at [email protected]