CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) The UNC Board of Governors has called a special meeting for Friday and the topic of pay raises for some chancellors in the UNC system is expected to come up.
Lawmakers at the General Assembly requested this hearing and a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said it had to do with the Open Meetings Law. The salaries were approved in closed session, which drew protests from media outlets.
Sen. Dan Blue, the Senate Minority Leader and a former chairman of the Duke University Board of Trustees, said there are some serious issues being raised about violation of the Open Meetings Law.
“The major discussion ought to be about making sure there’s no violation of the Open Meetings Law,” Blue said.
Two weeks ago, the board approved salary increases for 12 of the 17 chancellors in the UNC system.
“It’s the people’s money that you’re spending and the people ought to know how you’re spending their money before it’s spent,” Blue said.
Locally, N.C. State chancellor Randy Woodson’s salary goes from $520,000 to $590,000.
UNC Chancellor Carol Folt will go from $520,000 to $570,000.
And N.C. Central Chancellor Debra Saunders-White goes from $285,000 to $330,000.
According to 2014 data from the Chronicle of Higher Education, public university presidents had a median salary of about $428,000 a year.
The interim chancellor of the UNC Board of Governors, Lou Bissette Jr., said of the increases, “You’ve got to be able to pay your chancellors a reasonable compensation and a compensation that’s competitive.”
Some faculty members and students are asking the chancellors to give the extra money back or use it for a cause on campus.
“I don’t think any employer should get into telling their employees how they should spend their compensation,” Bissette said. “I mean that’s totally up to our chancellors.”
N.C. State’s Woodson, in a brief interview about the salary increases, said, “That’s the Board of Governors. That’s their prerogative and I’m at the other end of it.”
Reaction on the Wolfpack campus was mixed to the raises.
“If the chancellor is really doing a really good job and making sure that money is budgeted wisely, I think that the chancellor would deserve the increase,” said Gabrielle Whitten, a Wolfpack student.
But fellow State student David Hallen said, “Why do we raise the chancellor’s salary when he’s making enough money to live very, very, very comfortably? When … there are high levels of student fees? They’re having to work.”