- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 25, 2003

The board of trustees of the University of the District of Columbia agreed last night in a conference call to revoke a 6.4 percent pay raise for the school’s highest-paid administrators.

The agreement by the trustees reverses the unanimous approval last week of raises for nonunion employees, including the executive management team recently hired by university President William L. Pollard. Many of the new managers earn more than $100,000 a year. The 6.4 percent raises would have been retroactive to October.

The move followed reports in The Washington Times about opposition from the faculty and the D.C. Council.

The board is expected to meet in a special session next week to formally adopt the agreement.

The raises will be denied to administrators making more than $100,000, as well as officials who would have made more than $100,00 with the raises, and recently hired administrators.

The Times reported last week that the raises rekindled a feud between Mr. Pollard and the university’s staff and faculty. And students have threatened a walkout this fall in support of the faculty.

Yesterday, the paper reported that several members of the D.C. Council, which must approve such increases, vowed to fight the raises for administrators unless the pay increases also are given to faculty members who haven’t had a cost-of-living adjustment since 1998.

Charles Ogletree Jr., chairman of the board of trustees, said yesterday that the decision to withdraw the raises had nothing to do with the newspaper reports.

“It has a lot to do with constraints on resources and priorities,” he said. “When you put those things together, it is not a matter of rocket science. It is a practical thing to do.”

Mr. Pollard, who became the university president a year ago, did not respond yesterday to a request for comment. His $200,000 annual salary, the second highest in D.C. government, was not included in the raise package.

However, the increases would have gone to some of the administrators Mr. Pollard recently hired, including Executive Vice President Ernest L. Jolly, who makes $131,080 a year; and Vice President for Public Safety Robert T. Robinson, who makes $128,095 a year.

The Times reported in April that there was a significant number of six-figure salaries in the D.C. government. The District, with 572,000 residents, has more municipal employees earning $100,000-plus salaries than Chicago, with nearly 3 million residents, and Baltimore, with 651,000 residents.

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

The university has 11 employees who earn more than $100,000 a year, and each would have received the raises.

A longtime professor who said the faculty was “disgusted” after the trustees gave the raises to administrators, said the vote last night was an encouraging sign that the trustees are refocusing on the academic needs.

“The faculty and students intend to see to it that the university spends at least the national average on the classroom and brings down the excessive administrative costs,” said the professor, who has taught at the university for more than 30 years and asked that his name not be revealed.

The university has been plagued for years by financial problems and low morale. In the mid-1990s, it amassed a heavy deficit and nearly lost accreditation. University officials also have been criticized for mismanagement and overspending.

The Times reported in the fall that the university spends less than half the national average for instruction and research for undergraduate students, about $5,023 a student compared with $10,149. The school spends 41.7 percent of its $64 million budget on instruction and research compared with the national average of 56.8 percent.

However, the university spends nearly twice the national average on students at its David A. Clarke School of Law, which earlier this month failed in its five-year bid to win full accreditation because only about 25 percent of graduates pass the bar exam on the first try.

Mr. Ogletree said the trustees have been discussing pulling the administrators’ raises since a June 17 meeting in which they voted unanimously for increases that also would have gone to nonunion workers, such as law school professors, hourly workers and education support staff.

He said exempting the high-paid administrators was the “right thing to do.”

Mr. Ogletree has contacted the university’s Faculty Association, the union representing about 225 members, and offered to intervene in the salary negotiations that have been in arbitration since the union rejected the 1 percent raise offered by the administration earlier this year.

“I am available, willing and able to participate in these negotiations, something that I have scrupulously avoided in the past,” he said.

Mr. Ogletree also said he was getting involved to salvage the negotiations. He said settling the labor dispute was a high priority of the trustees and the administration.

“I am absolutely confident that we are going to make incredible progress in a short period of time,” he said.

Faculty Association President Leslie Richards said the union had no stake in raises for administrators.

“What we want is equity for the faculty,” she said. “We are not trying to take anything from anybody else. We just want ours.”

She declined to discuss details of the negotiations, but confirmed that Mr. Ogletree had offered to join the talks.

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