Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics president rejects pay raise

The granting of $14,000 to $50,000 pay hikes to several state agency directors has created a public furor, but at least one agency head turned down his opportunity for a large raise.
by Randy Ellis Modified: October 31, 2013 at 10:00 am •  Published: October 30, 2013

Alex Weintz, spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin, said the governor was notified Wednesday that the tourism executive director would not accept her raise until Jan. 1.

“My understanding is that it (the delay) was in order to let the second employee pay study be introduced,” Weintz said.

To whom much is given

Wang, who has a Ph.D. in math from MIT, said the process of rejecting his pay raise turned out to be a bit of an ordeal, because agency officials weren't sure that could be done.

Wang said he wound up calling an assistant attorney general who said his governing board would not have to give the raise if it determined the agency did not have the funds to pay the agency head within the pay range set for the job.

That procedure was followed.

“I am more than happy to decline the pay increase,” Wang said, adding that he was able to build up personal savings because of some high-paying jobs in the past, including serving as chief executive officer of Saxon Publishers, which is based in Norman.

“I got the type of obscene levels of pay that you read about in the papers,” he said.

Wang said he quit his job to pursue his lifelong passion for teaching and taught for free at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

“For me, it's just really about making a difference in some young people's lives,” he said.

Later, Wang said he accepted an invitation from University of Oklahoma President David Boren to teach at OU. Wang said he had to accept a modest stipend so he could be in the university's payroll system and get a parking pass, but donated his salary plus some to support OU libraries.

After jobs in other locations, Wang eventually accepted the job at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics.

“I probably spend $20,000 a year buying supplies like markers for teachers,” he said.

Wang said that by rejecting his recent raise, he was in no way passing judgment on what other directors should do because he doesn't know their circumstances.

Wang, who has a wife and four children, said the decision to reject the raise was not unanimous within his own household.

“My wife was telling me, ‘Take the increase,'” he laughed.

Still, Wang is convinced turning down the raise was the right thing to do.

Hearkening back to his November 2012 inauguration speech to students at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, Wang recalled talking to them about their obligation to serve.

“To whom much is given, of him shall much be required,” Wang quoted from the Bible during that speech.

“I have been given much, and so from me much is required,” Wang told students that day.

By declining the pay raise, Wang is once again using his life to deliver that message.

by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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I told our finance guy that I would decline any increase because 70 percent of our expenditures are personnel and I would likely have to let someone go or reduce someone's work hours to get the pay increase.”

Frank Wang,
president of the Oklahoma School

of Science and Mathematics

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