When President John Feaver decided to cut salaries of employees at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in 2009 to help offset a tough budget year, he designed the cuts so he and other top-paid employees would take the largest hit.
The salary cuts, which range from 1 to 3 percent for all employees, were a last resort designed to protect jobs, services and programs at USAO during tough budget years, Feaver said.
Feaver took a 3 percent cut, which amounted to $4,420 this year.
Most presidents at Oklahoma's public colleges and universities saw little or no change in pay this year as the state system of higher education struggled to absorb a $34.3 million cut in state appropriations. A few presidents, including Feaver, took pay cuts. Those salary trends reflect a troubled economy, which has forced many schools to implement hiring and salary freezes, among other cost-saving measures.
Nineteen of the Oklahoma State System for Higher Education's 28 presidents had no change in pay this year. Six presidents received slight pay increases of less than 3 percent, and three had reductions in pay. Salaries range from about $108,000 to $357,000. The average is $187,238.
Nationally, pay for senior administrators at public colleges stayed flat last year, while median salaries for presidents at private institutions increased by 2 percent, according to an annual report from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.
Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis and University of Oklahoma President David Boren are the highest-paid presidents at Oklahoma's public colleges and universities. They make $350,000 and $357,750, respectively. Boren volunteered to take a 6 percent pay cut and asked other senior administrators to consider doing the same when the economy declined.
Oklahoma State University employees have not received raises for the past two years, said Gary Shutt, a spokesman for the university. Officials have been selective about filling vacancies, Shutt said. The University of Oklahoma has also implemented salary freezes and hiring freezes for some positions during recent years.
The salary for Southwestern Oklahoma State University's president dropped nearly 27 percent this year because a new president with less experience at the university took over the position, said Connie Reilly, chairwoman of the Regents for the Regional University System of Oklahoma, which governs six universities.
President Randy Beutler took over at SWOSU in February 2010. His predecessor, John Hays, had worked for the university for 30 years and served as president since 2001. Reilly said the regents consider experience, complexity of the job and size of the student body when assessing how much to pay college presidents.
She said regents decided to freeze presidents' salaries this year because of the economy. Despite the freeze, presidents at several schools within the system received $1,000 increases this year. That's because their contracts include a clause that allows new presidents to receive a $1,000 increase during each of their first five years, said Sheridan McCaffree, executive director of the Regional University System of Oklahoma.
At USAO, Feaver's salary declined from $147,300 during the 2010 fiscal year to $142,880 this fiscal year. Feaver said he decided to cut salaries to avoid cutting positions and programs. The university's state allocations were cut by about 5 percent, or $717,000, this fiscal year and $200,000 the year before.
The salary cuts, which took effect in November 2009, will remain in effect until the budget outlook starts to improve, Feaver said.
USAO started increasing its admission standards in 2005 as part of a mission enhancement program. Because of tougher admission standards, USAO has not experienced the same enrollment surges and subsequent boost from more tuition funds that many state colleges have during the economic downturn. The university's enrollment declined about 2.5 percent during the past two years.
10 highest-paid presidents at Oklahoma's public colleges and universities:
School FY2010 FY 2011 Difference Percent change
University of Oklahoma $380,585 $357,750 $22,835 -6 percent
Oklahoma State University $350,000 $350,000 $0 0
University of Central Oklahoma $266,252 $266,252 $0 0
Cameron University $259,200 $259,200 $0 0
Tulsa Community College $248,441 $248,441 $0 0
Oklahoma State University-Tulsa $239,256 $239,256 $0 0
Oklahoma City Community College $227,429 $227,429 $0 0
Langston University $212,000 $212,000 $0 0
Northeastern State University $210,000 $212,000 $2,000 1 percent
Rose State College $211,500 $211,500 $0 0
Six lowest-paid presidents at Oklahoma's public colleges and universities:
School FY 2010 FY 2011 Difference Percent change
Murray State College $108,275 $108,275 $0 0
Carl Albert State College $110,000, $111,500 $1,500 1.4 percent
Western Oklahoma State College $124,655 $124,655 $0 0
Eastern Oklahoma State College $121,667 125,000 $3,333 2.7 percent
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College $140,000 $140,000 $0 0
Northern Oklahoma College $140,000 $140,000 $0 0