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Salary freeze reflected in most recent IU database: Exceptions include people who changed jobs or got promoted
[July 25, 2010]

Salary freeze reflected in most recent IU database: Exceptions include people who changed jobs or got promoted

Jul 25, 2010 (Herald-Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Indiana University's salary freeze is a cold reality for most of the 8,000 or so employees on the Bloomington campus.

But university officials are quick to point out that it's a general freeze, with some exceptions. If you take a new position, you still can earn more money.

That provision in the salary policy enabled Kelley School of Business professor Idalene Kesner to rocket up into the top 10 most highly paid employees on the Bloomington campus and claim the distinction of being the most highly paid woman on campus.

After serving in several administrative roles within the school, Kesner last year was named associate dean of faculty and research. Her salary increased from $282,600 to $302,600, and that shot her up to sixth on the list of top 10 salary earners on the Bloomington campus.

Otherwise, the budgeted salaries for Indiana University employees in 2010-11 look a lot like the salaries in 2009-10 because of the freeze ordered by President Michael A. McRobbie.

McRobbie imposed the freeze for the 2009-10 fiscal year last summer after consideration of various factors related to the nation's recession, including a cut in budgeted revenue from the state.

The "flat-lining" of salaries has been extended into the current fiscal year, although the vice president and chief financial officer, Neil Theobald, directed the numerous academic, administrative and other units on campus to set aside 2 percent of their budgets to either offset further cuts from the state or to provide small salary increases.

"The president is carefully examining all of his revenue sources with the hope of maybe being able to recommend salary increases to the board of trustees," university spokesman Larry MacIntyre said last week. "That could come in August or no later than September." MacIntyre and Theobald had previously said that the financial health of state government and fall enrollment figures would be the determining factors on whether the university could afford to provide salary increases.

But as Kesner's pay raise indicates, there are exceptions to the policy. Theobald said there are four official exceptions to the rule and one unofficial factor.

"The first exception is for any faculty or staff member who is promoted in rank or position," Theobald said. "For example, on the faculty side, if you move from assistant professor to associate professor, or from associate to full professor, you will move on the salary scale.

"Within staff, if you move ranks it's effectively taking another job. It's a change in role," he continued. "If you comb through the salary database, that's going to be about 80 percent of any changes you will find in there." The three other official exceptions to the salary freeze, according to Theobald, are: Anyone who has been determined to be unfairly paid because of racial or gender inequity.

Anyone under a legally binding contract that calls for a pay increase.

Anyone with a certain type of visa whose salary is determined by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The "unwritten" exception, the IU CFO said, concerns faculty or administrators who are considered "stars" in their field. "We do not let other universities poach our stars, even during these tough economic times," he said. "These exceptions are very carefully considered and we do not make these exceptions lightly, but if we have faculty or coaches that we want to keep here and have a legitimate offer from another institution, we'll match that offer. These are people who would be a lot more expensive to replace than retain." "Our national and international reputation rests on having some top people and it's hard to put a price tag on that," added MacIntyre. "President McRobbie makes no bones about it. He's going to try to keep these people if he can." The IU spokesman offered no apologies, either, for top salaries that critics view as excessive. "When you compare our salaries to peer institutions, other institutions in the Big Ten, you'll find that we are a little on the low side," MacIntyre said. "Even the president's salary is near the bottom of the Big Ten." Some analysis of the salary database is difficult to make accurately because of split appointments and other factors. Most university-wide administrators, such as vice presidents, operate out of the Bloomington campus and therefore are considered generally to be Bloomington employees. But there also are several University Administration employees who live and work in Indianapolis or at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus.

Including UA in an assessment of the Bloomington campus salaries, the database shows 835 employees making $100,000 or more and 93 earning more than $200,000 annually. The 835 employees with six-figure incomes make a combined $120,513,619 -- about 26 percent of the Bloomington campus salaries.

IU employs about 8,000 people on its Bloomington campus but MacIntyre said last year's estimate of 8,040 is likely down because of an austerity measure implemented during budget cutting.

"Essentially the rule is that you can replace one staff member for every two you lose," he said. "That's not a hard-and-fast rule because Neil (Theobald) can grant special exceptions on a case-by-case basis. Hypothetically, if you are a small department with two staff members and you lose one, there's a legitimate case to be made that the remaining person can't do the job of two people." There also have been some staff cuts over the past year in specific situations that do not fall under the general mandate to avoid layoffs, Theobald said. "When we split apart the cyclotron, we split it into two pieces: the people who run the beam and the people whose jobs are funded by research grants. When we did that, there were more people on the research grant side than grants to cover them, and so some jobs were lost there.

"When we merged document services and printing services, we found that we had duplication of positions across those two units and some jobs were lost there," Theobald said. "So we regret it when any jobs are lost, but we also can't justify keeping positions that are not necessary when we merge or consolidate functions." Men's basketball coach Tom Crean continues to top the IU salary chart with $600,000 in base pay, but that doesn't tell the whole story. His contract calls for supplemental pay that will put his total guaranteed earnings for 2010-11 at $2.24 million. Supplemental pay comes from things including shoe and athletic gear contracts, compensation for his radio program and other sources.

The university employees behind Crean in IU's top five remain unchanged from 2009-10, both in order and salary. They include President McRobbie ($425,000); athletics director Fred Glass ($410,000); business professor and former dean Dan Dalton ($336,000) and current Kelley school dean Dan Smith ($333,520).

Reporter Mike Malik contributed to this story.

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