News: CJ Exclusives

Mary Easley Gets 88 Percent Pay Raise

First lady given pay increase of nearly $80,000 for N.C. State job

On the same day her lavish spending on an overseas trip was front-page news, Gov. Mike Easley’s wife Mary received a $79,700 pay raise for her job at North Carolina State University, according to public records obtained from the school.

Ms. Easley began working at NCSU three years ago with the title of executive-in-residence/senior lecturer. Until June 30 her salary was $90,300, but as of July 1 it was raised 88 percent to $170,000. Her position title remains the same, according to records.

Her raise gives her a salary nearly $35,000 more than her husband’s, who makes $135,854 as the state’s top elected official.

Prior to joining the NCSU faculty Mrs. Easley, a lawyer, had taught law at North Carolina Central University in Durham. Three years ago when NCSU announced Ms. Easley was joining the faculty, the university’s news release stated that her appointment was for a three-year term.

Carolina Journal was unable to determine her original salary, and under state law the university is not required to make it public.

Ms. Easley’s salary is substantially higher than most of the university’s academic salaries. According to data from the NCSU’s Web site, the average faculty salary in 2007-08 was $84,570, while the average salary for full professors was $110,790.

Ms. Easley works in the office of NCSU Provost Larry A. Nielson, the university’s chief academic officer. Late yesterday CJ was unable to reach Nielson for comment on Ms. Easley’s position and her 88 percent pay raise.

According to the university, Ms. Easley’s job description is as follows:

Mary Easley is Executive-in-Residence in the Office of the Provost, whose primary duties have been the development and direction of the University’s principal speakers program, the Millennium Seminars; the development and presentation of the spring semester course entitled, “Public Law for Public Administrators” in the Masters of Public Administration Program; and as a faculty member in the Administrative Officers Management Program, teaching Legal Aspects of Police Supervision during the fall and spring semesters. She will continue her work with the AOMP program and the Millennium Seminars and will have additional responsibilities that include directing the development of the Public Safety Leadership Initiative, expanding the existing program to include first responders and security professionals, co-directing pre-law services at NC State, and acting as the University’s liaison for partnerships with the legal profession and area law schools, including the development of dual degree programs.”

The governor and his wife recently have received media attention for their taxpayer-funded overseas travel. The News & Observer revealed lavish spending on their recent trip to Italy. Coincidentally, that trip cost about $170,000, the same as Ms. Easley’s new salary.

In a front-page story yesterday, The N&O detailed lavish spending during a 2007 trip Ms. Easley took to France, Estonia and Russia.

The governor maintains that the trips were for official state business and the spending is necessary to land important art exhibits and recruit new business to North Carolina.

Don Carrington is executive editor of Carolina Journal.