The UNC Board of Governors’ Oct. 30 closed-session vote to increase pay for 12 chancellors — which passed by a narrow 16-13 margin — will face the scrutiny of the General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Commission on Government Operations Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. in the Legislative Office Building.
The decision to raise pay brought protests from legislative leaders who dubbed the action unlawful and called for a release of records from the meeting. The North Carolina Press Association also objected to the board taking the vote in closed session.
In a short-notice gathering on Nov. 13, the board approved a request from Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, to review minutes, agendas, and audio recordings of the session. Board members also agreed to make general details of the vote available to the public.
That public information, released Nov. 16, included a one-paragraph statement about board proceedings, and provided information about updated chancellor salaries and percentages of salary increases. It did not, however, identify the members who supported and opposed the pay raises.
“The recommendations followed the board’s completion of a comprehensive review of senior leadership compensation that the board had discussed in several public meetings from late 2014 through early 2015,” the statement authorized by acting Chairman Lou Bissette said.
Of those chancellors who saw a hike in pay, two were hired in January 2015. Mary Grant, chancellor of UNC-Asheville, saw her salary bumped from $255,000 to $295,000, a 15.69 percent raise. Elwood Robinson, chancellor of Winston-Salem State University, was raised from $260,000 to $280,000, a 7.69 percent increase. Robinson’s was the lowest percentage of increase given by the board.
The highest percentage of increase, 19.43 percent, was assigned to Western Carolina University Chancellor David Belcher, whose salary moved from $280,500 to $335,000.
The average of cumulative pay raises for chancellors between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2015 is 7.33 percent.
All chancellor salary changes were adopted within market range, and are “consistent with the board’s philosophy of recruiting and retaining excellent leaders and identifying the relevant market ranges for these leaders,” the statement said.
Kari Travis (@karilynntravis) is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.