Regents give Yudof 4.5 percent raise

Liz Kohman

The University Board of Regents increased President Mark Yudof’s salary 4.5 percent Friday, praising him for his outstanding performance during turbulent financial times.

The raise comes in the wake of a systemwide 13.8 percent tuition increase, last session’s funding battle in the state Legislature and Yudof’s latest message of University momentum.

“We believe this contract is market competitive and commensurate of the president’s leadership,” said Regents Chairwoman Maureen Reed. “We expect the president to propel the University in the right direction.”

Yudof’s 4.5 percent increase translates to $15,000, boosting his annual salary of $335,000 to $350,000.

In addition to the raise, Yudof’s contract was extended for one year, obligating him to stay with the University through June 2004.

The deal also replaced a deferred compensation plan with a defined benefit plan. Under the new plan, Yudof, 57, will receive a $6,203 monthly pension after age 65 if he stays with the University through June of 2004. If Yudof chooses to end the contract early, his pension will be altered accordingly.

But, for now, Yudof said he has no plans to leave his position, although he does receive offers from other colleges.

“I really am having fun here,” Yudof said. “It’s a very fair contract.”

Others disagree. With increased tuition and a possible 13-credit semester minimum on the horizon, many students have said they are frustrated with the academic climate at the University.

Kristin Bridgeman, a University sophomore, said “it’s asking too much” of students to pay increased tuition and then expect them to take more classes.

“We can’t afford it,” Bridgeman said. “What does he need $350,000 a year for? He better be hooking us up a little better.”

Other students felt the amount of Yudof’s salary was too much.

Rachel Stockert, a University graduate student in the master of fine arts program for creative writing, said she survives on $10,000 per year and doesn’t think anybody needs to earn more than they could live on comfortably.

“I think that’s a ridiculous salary, thinking of all the other things it could go for,” Stockert said. “One-third of it would be adequate.”

Reed said the need to stay competitive in the market also influenced the president’s new contract.

“I think he is very happy here, but we also know he’s in demand,” she said. “We want to make sure he knows his value to us.”

In August, Yudof was the third-highest-paid president in the Big Ten, trailing the presidents of Northwestern and Illinois in terms of salary. Penn State does not release its president’s salary.

Yudof has served as University president since 1997 and has received four pay increases totaling $125,000 since he began.

Yudof isn’t the only University employee to receive a raise this year. Faculty members are eligible for a 5 percent merit increase. Some staff members will receive a 3 percent increase, depending on job classification, while other staff members will be up for a 3 percent merit increase.

Regents approve unions’ contract

The Regents also approved the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees health, clerical and technical workers’ contracts Friday.

The union employees will receive a 3 percent pay increase and participate in the “U” plan for health insurance. The University will also give union members $300 in compensation for the transition to the new health plan.

“This was not an easy process given the economics of the state and country,” said Regent David Metzen, chairman of the Faculty, Staff and Student Affairs Committee.

Metzen thanked all parties who participated in negotiations. He also said the Regents received hundreds of letters from union members indicating more needs to be done.

Some union members sent form letters, which were distributed at the voting polls, calling the contract wages unlivable.

Polly Peterson, a clerical union employee who was a member of the negotiating committee, said she voted against the union contract.

She said the contract was a step back for union members because they will pay more for health insurance in the long run. She also said the difference between Yudof’s latest contract and the unions’ is frustrating.

“I feel like doing a percentage increase continues to raise the gap between people at the bottom and top,” she said.