- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 19, 2003

Students at the University of the District of Columbia and faculty members, who recently rejected a 1 percent pay increase, yesterday threatened to take part in intermittent strikes this fall to protest this week’s vote to give high-paid administrators a 6.4 percent raise retroactive to October.

Darrell Williams, president of UDC’s graduate student government, said students are siding with faculty and staff members because they were left out of the pay increase. He added that they are engaged in “some very serious talk about a walkout.”

UDC faculty and staff members have not had a cost-of-living adjustment since 1998. Some longtime professors said yesterday that they are considering joining a student-organized walkout when classes resume in August.

“The students feel the faculty has done an amazing job, and we think that they deserve to have the cost-of-living raise,” said Mr. Williams, who is working on a master’s of business administration degree. “We want to keep the morale of the entire university up.”

The raise, which was approved late Tuesday by UDC’s board of trustees, would benefit all of the school’s nonunion employees.

But the inclusion of high-paid administrators drew criticism from the university’s unionized faculty and staff, and from D.C. Council members, who must approve the raise.

Council member Adrian Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, said he was bothered by any pay raise in city government during the current budget crunch. But he said he was especially concerned about increasing the salaries of the new management team hired within the past year by UDC President William L. Pollard.

“You want people to work for a certain amount of time before you offer them a raise,” Mr. Fenty said. “But at the same time, there is a neglected work force over there, both union and nonunion, and you have to take that into consideration.”

Council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican, said she would support a raise for the nonunion hourly workers and education support staff, but not for the high-paid administrators.

“I’m concerned about the high-level salaries all over this government,” Mrs. Schwartz said. “I am very displeased with the board of trustees’ approval of any salary increase for these high-level people who are already overpaid.”

The board’s vote seemed to have inflamed the simmering discontent among the university’s staff and faculty with Mr. Pollard, who took the helm a year ago. Some said he favored raises for his high-paid administrators over pay increases for the union workers and increased spending on academic programs.

“The faculty right now are very disgusted,” said a professor who has worked at the university for more than 30 years. “They are screwing around with money that was intended for students. They are diverting the money and hiring administrators and doing everything except spending it on classrooms.”

Carl Friedman, a computer information systems professor, shared his colleague’s frustration.

“We are certainly very disappointed, and I think many of us are … angry,” said Mr. Friedman, who has worked at the university for 23 years. “We can only hope that the council will say, ‘Who are these people, and why are you paying these people all this money?’”

Mr. Pollard was not available for comment. The proposed pay increase would not apply to his $200,000-a-year salary, the second-highest in D.C. government.

UDC has 11 employees who earn more than $100,000, and each of them would receive the 6.4 percent raise. Among them are recently hired Vice President for Public Safety Robert T. Robinson, who makes $128,095 a year, and Executive Vice President Ernest L. Jolly, who earns $131,080 a year.

The total cost of the pay increase has not yet been determined by D.C. officials.

UDC has been plagued by financial turmoil and low morale. In the mid-1990s, it racked up a heavy deficit and nearly lost accreditation. University officials also have long been criticized for mismanagement and overspending.

Tuesday’s salary increase comes a few months after the administration offered the UDC Faculty Association, the union that represents the school’s faculty and staff, a 1 percent pay raise. The union rejected the offer. The two sides remain deadlocked in arbitration.

UDC Faculty Association President Leslie Richards declined to comment yesterday on the union’s response to the proposed raise for their nonunion colleagues and bosses. Miss Richards told The Washington Times on Wednesday that union members were “demoralized” about the 6.4 percent pay increase for administrators.

UDC Communications Director Mike Andrews acknowledged low morale on campus. However, he said criticism directed at Mr. Pollard about the management team he recruited and pay issues are misguided. He said four of the $100,000-plus salaries went to people hired by Mr. Pollard.

“Mr. Pollard was hired by the board of trustees to shake things up, and now that he is shaking things up there appears to be some negative reaction to it,” said Mr. Andrews, who a new hire who makes more than $100,000 a year and would get the 6.4 percent raise.

Mr. Andrews said the raise was a recommendation patterned after pay increases in other D.C. government agencies and was not a priority for Mr. Pollard. “We don’t have a dog in this fight,” he said. “It is what has been recommended, what was proposed. We are just saying OK.”

A spokesman for D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams reserved comment until officials could assess the budgetary effect of the pay raise. “At this point, we are just learning about it,” said Tony Bullock, a spokesman for Mr. Williams.

The Times first reported in April the proliferation in six-figure salaries in the D.C. government. The District, with 572,000 residents, has more city government workers earning $100,00-plus salaries than Chicago, with nearly 3 million residents, and Baltimore, with 651,000 residents.

Of the District’s 34,000 city employees, more than 575 make more than $100,000 a year. In comparison, 419 of Chicago’s 40,000 city workers and 33 of Baltimore’s 15,000 city workers make that much.

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