On Thursday, Sept. 18, the UC Board of Regents approved salary hikes for several UC chancellors in an effort to make their salaries more competitive with chancellors at other institutions. Aimed primarily at the UC’s three lowest-paid chancellors, these raises are part of the regents’ plan to raise the salaries of all UC chancellors, staff and faculty over the next three years. The vote was controversial, with negative votes coming from Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and several other regents.

Chancellor Henry Yang of UC Santa Barbara, in addition to Dorothy Leland of UC Merced and George Blumenthal of UC Santa Cruz, each received 20 percent raises, their base salaries going from $324,450 to $389,340; and from $319,300 to $383,160, respectively. UC Riverside’s Chancellor Kim Wilcox was given a 5.1 percent base salary increase, bringing his pay from $364,620 to $383,160.

Regent Russell Gould, who also serves on a committee charged with overseeing university employee compensation, was heavily in favor of the raises. He pointed out that the UC chancellors’ salaries are on average much lower than their counterparts from other leading institutions, and said that the raises are “correcting injustices” done to them.

The 10 UC chancellors’ base pay is about 7 percent lower than the 28 other public institutions in the Association of American Universities, an organization of top research universities around the nation. When compared to the 26 private universities on the list, this disparity becomes 45 percent. Steve Montiel, spokesman for the UC Office of the President, said in a Press Enterprise interview that the regents view the salary adjustments for these chancellors as “a first step toward longer-term changes that will make UC pay more competitive with other peer public and private universities.”

However, the salary increases were not so well received by everyone. Todd Stenhouse, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, said that the raises “send the wrong message about the UC’s priorities to the public we are here to serve.” Regent Bonnie Reiss initially reported concern about this message as well, but changed her mind when she recalled that UC Irvine’s chancellor, Michael Drake, left the UC for Ohio State University last year, where his base pay more than doubled to $851,303.

Third-year UCR student Melina Reyes believes that the issue “highlights just how out of touch (the regents) are with the student population, and California as a whole.” She stated that the raises do not resolve the issues of tuition and class availability, but are instead “increasing the monetary stress of the institution.” Second-year classical studies major Angela Hurley voiced similar concerns, stating that “focusing on our schools’ academics should, of course, be top priority.”