A year after Georgia saw its first million-dollar college presidents, the state’s Board of Regents approved raises for college leaders again this year. The increases are more modest, but still mean thousands of dollars in additional pay.
All presidents at institutions in the University System of Georgia, except for those retiring, interim or not returning, will see an increase in their base pay for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The raises, between 1.5 percent and 5 percent, equal an annual increase between about $2,750 and $12,196.
Raises for some presidents last year were as much as 10 percent, according to University System data.
At that time system officials defended high payments, specifically to presidents at Georgia Tech and Georgia State universities, saying they needed to keep the high-performing presidents from being recruited away by other schools.
The Regents faced pressure from state lawmakers this year who questioned rising costs — including years of tuition increases — for the thousands of college students. Legislation was floated during the most recent legislative session that would have prevented the Regents from raising tuition at the system’s 29 institutions by more than the rate of inflation.
In response, the Regents implemented a tuition freeze for the upcoming school year.
Most of the raises are in line with Gov. Nathan Deal’s budget, which included money to give state employees raises in July in the 3 percent range.
“We are grateful for the support of the Governor and the Legislature for the merit-based pay raises for our employees,” University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby said in an emailed statement. “I am extremely proud of the work and contributions of all of our employees in the University System of Georgia, and I thank them for their service to our students and state.”
Presidents at Savannah State University and the University of North Georgia will see the largest percentage increase in their base salary, 5 percent. Three presidents — at the University of West Georgia, Fort Valley State and Georgia College and State universities — will see their salary increase by 3 percent. Presidents at all other institutions will see 1.5 percent raises.
Presidents at Georgia Tech and Georgia State universities, with compensation — including salary and benefits — already more than $1 million, will also see their pay increase by 1.5 percent in July.
The presidents’ pay raises, though lower than last year, are still out of line, said Rep. David Stover, who has been highly critical of the Board of Regents and Georgia’s rising college costs. After the large increases last year, “I don’t think a single dime should have been given,” he said.
Stover, R-Newnan, proposed legislation during the session that would have required the Regents become an elected, rather than an appointed, body.
“I think the majority of the General Assembly when you talk privately with them would say the Board of Regents needs to be reined in,” he said, “but they won’t talk publicly because they are afraid of losing funding for the schools in their districts.”