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December 5, 2013

Trustees approve senior administrators raises of 3-4.9%

Pitt trustees awarded Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg a 3 percent raise and set salaries for seven other University officers for the current fiscal year.

In a Dec. 3 teleconference meeting, the Board of Trustees compensation committee set Nordenberg’s salary at $597,500, up $17,500 from his FY13 salary of $580,000.

In commenting on the chancellor’s salary increase, board chair Stephen R. Tritch said, “Mark Nordenberg now is moving through his 19th and final year as chancellor of the University. He has led Pitt through an extended period of remarkable progress and now is one of the most senior, and most successful, university leaders in America. Throughout his service, Chancellor Nordenberg’s compensation has lagged behind the compensation received by many of his peers. The existence of that gap is not reflective of any reluctance on the part of the compensation committee to raise his compensation. Instead, it is the product of his own resistance to any salary increases beyond those of a modest size. This year, he has again requested that his increase be lower than the lowest of the percentage increases awarded to any other officer.”


The University’s FY14 budget included a 2.5 percent salary pool increase, distributed 1.5 percent for salary maintenance for employees whose work has been assessed as satisfactory and 1 percent for merit, market and equity adjustments at the unit level. (See Aug. 29 University Times.)

Although the salary pool increase is announced as part of the University’s operating budget, the compensation committee typically defers its decisions on officers’ salaries until early December.

Tritch noted that the delay enables the committee to gather more accurate contextual information on other Pitt employees’ increases and to consider measures of institutional progress before setting officers’ salaries.

Officers’ salaries

Nordenberg, who will step down from the chancellor post Aug. 1, commended the leadership team as part of his final opportunity to recommend their pay increases.

“As you all know, I have enormous respect for all of the people of Pitt and am deeply grateful for the contributions that have been made by so many — faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends — to the University’s progress. But this is a process that focuses on the officers and because this will be my last chance to publicly comment on them — at least in this setting — I want to take just a few minutes to do just that,” the chancellor told the committee.

“This is an extraordinary group in terms of the individual talents and commitment to Pitt that is regularly demonstrated. We’re very fortunate to have the members of this group leading the important parts of the University’s operations,” Nordenberg said.

“It also is an extraordinary group in terms of their demonstrated willingness and ability to function as a team — something that never should be taken for granted. They have come to the University from diverse backgrounds. Once here, most of them have stayed for a very long time and they have contributed to what really has been the transformation of the University,” Nordenberg said, citing gains in student quality, research support and Pitt’s contributions to the regional economy.

“We do know that some of the officers lag their benchmarks and try to do what we can when we can to bring them up,” Nordenberg said.

Noting that the average faculty salary increase was 4.3 percent and that 23 percent of Pitt faculty received increases of 5 percent or more and 7 percent received increases of 10 percent or more, Nordenberg told the trustees committee, “The recommended salary increases that I have put before you are clearly justified by performance. They are well within external benchmarks and they also are consistent with salary increases awarded to members of the Pitt faculty during the current year.”

Tritch said, “As trustees, we are responsible to ensure that this institution is capably led and that the officers of the University are appropriately compensated, to remain mindful of the academic culture, the metrics of the marketplace and the financial circumstances that may be faced at any particular point in time.”

Tritch said the board has continued to retain an independent consultant to advise on officers’ compensation decisions. “Based on that consultant’s comparative assessment, the committee notes that some members of Pitt’s officer group lag behind appropriate benchmarks, particularly given the seniority and demonstrated effectiveness of its members.”

Citing Pitt’s 2.5 percent salary pool increase and the higher average faculty salary increase, Tritch noted that the chancellor’s recommendations for officers’ salaries “are clustered around the average faculty salary increase of 4.3 percent, with the comparatively modest percentage increases between officers typically reflecting benchmarking differences.”

Ken Service, vice chancellor for University communications, could not elaborate on the benchmarks consultants used. He also told the University Times that no figure was available for the actual average pay increase for University staff members in FY14.

The compensation committee set the following salaries:

• Patricia E. Beeson, senior vice chancellor and provost, $392,500, up $18,500 or 4.9 percent from $374,000;

• B. Jean Ferketish, secretary of the Board of Trustees and assistant chancellor, $225,000, up $9,000 or nearly 4.2 percent from $216,000;

• Arthur Levine, senior vice chancellor for the Health Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine, $817,500, up $30,000 or 3.8 percent from $787,500;

• Amy K. Marsh, chief investment officer, $425,000, up  $20,000 or 4.9 percent from $405,000;

• Arthur G. Ramicone, chief financial officer, $372,500, up $15,500 or 4.3 percent from $357,000;

• Jerome Cochran, executive vice chancellor, $512,500, an increase of $19,500, or nearly 4 percent from $493,000.

Cochran had served in the dual role of executive vice chancellor and general counsel since 2004, and in 2007 trustees awarded him a $60,000 salary supplement for his continuing additional service as general counsel, which was rolled into his FY08 base salary. (See Dec. 6, 2007, University Times.)

Cochran ceded the general counsel title earlier this year to focus on University business needs. (See Feb. 7 University Times.)

• P. Jerome Richey, who became Pitt’s general counsel on March 1, was awarded a $15,000 raise to $365,000, up nearly 4.3 percent from his initial $350,000 salary, which was approved March 21. (See April 4 University Times.)

The officers’ increases are retroactive to July 1.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 46 Issue 8

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