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UNC chief says Mary Easley's raise under review

Posted July 9, 2008

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— A nearly $80,000 pay raise given to the governor's wife as well as other large pay raises were not reviewed by the university governing board as required, the chairwoman of the state university system said Wednesday.

University officials decided at a meeting that the raises would have to be approved by the board, said Hannah Gage, chairwoman of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

Mary Easley, the wife of Gov. Mike Easley, is an executive in residence and senior lecturer at N.C. State. The school last week raised her pay about 88 percent from $90,300 to $170,000.

When Mary Easley recently talked with WRAL’s David Crabtree, she made no apologies for the raise, chalking it up to her credentials.

"All of my experience as a lawyer in private practice, a prosecutor, as a person that has worked with and advised law enforcement for more than 30 years in legal issues," she said.

Gage said the decision was made during a meeting of UNC President Erskine Bowles, herself, North Carolina State University Chancellor James Oblinger and other officials.

Other state universities have followed the policy properly, Gage said. But N.C. State apparently misinterpreted the policy and didn't bring other large pay raises to the Board of Governors, she said.

"That policy has been around for a good while," Gage said, adding that Mary Easley "had nothing to do with it not coming to the board."

Gage wouldn't comment on the amount of pay the governor's wife received, but said there were "much more significant salaries than hers."

The university system policy requires that proposed pay increases of more than 15 percent or $10,000 be approved by a Board of Governors committee and the full board.

Mary Easley said in a statement that she had been told that the Board of Governors must approve her raise and others.

"I am happy to have my positions, duties and responsibilities reviewed as well," she said.

Last week, N.C. State officials defended the pay, saying Mary Easley was getting a new job with increased responsibility at the Center for Public Safety Leadership and Strategic Legal Partnership. She previously taught law at North Carolina Central University in Durham.

N.C. State Provost Larry Nielsen said Mary Easley's appointment had to be approved by the Board of Governors, along with similar positions and that the university had been interpreting its obligation differently under system rules.

Nielsen also said that over the past two years she has built the school's Millennium Seminar speaker series into a major program.

"In her new position, Mrs. Easley's responsibilities have been significantly expanded, warranting a new salary in the range of other management and law faculty at N.C. State and its peer institutions," he said.

Nielsen said her leadership of the public safety program would help develop "best practices in the administration and leadership of ... the work of police, firefighters, port officials, emergency medical personnel, homeland security official and others."

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  • maddie Jul 11, 2008

    I do not see that this is justified. There are other priorities at the University that need attention and funding!!!

  • superman Jul 10, 2008

    She is in residence at NC State? Doesnt she live with her husband in the governor's mansion? I didnt realize they were seperated. I thought residence meant where u lived not where you worked.

  • Wolfheel Tarpack Jul 10, 2008

    Lady Justice - you asked about faculty and professor salaries -- there are many categories based on education, research and published works PLUS potential tenure. Salaries range from about $45,000 for associate professor and can be over $100,000 for salary plus and additional supplements for research grants and publishing contracts. However, to be something beyond a lecturer at a research institution, one must have a doctorate or be a teaching assistant in graduate school pursuing it. In this case Mary is a lecturer, though her background is as an attorney and since NC State has no law school it doesn't seem like it's quite aligned with her expertise and skills as a faculty person. However, hiring speakers and caterers for the Millenium series works, but that role would pay about $35,000 - %45,000.

  • limeyone2000 Jul 10, 2008

    Goodbye to one or two people, methinks.

  • Vietnam Vet Jul 10, 2008

    Where do they get off giving anyone a 50% raise, much less some they're already paying $90K to in the first place when other state employees are receiving 3% raises!!

  • ridgerunner Jul 10, 2008

    A job in the private sector would have requirements to actually produce something, and that would mean that dirty four letter word WORK.

  • FloydTurbo Jul 10, 2008

    There is not one single thing that Erskine Bowles has done as UNC Prez to warrant being referred to as "as a little weasel". On the contrary he has taken numerous steps to eliminate academic fraud and frivolity .... and is duly disliked as a result by the faculty clowns thruout the UNC system.

    His prior association w/ Bill Clinton has a side untold to the general public. I am a hard-core right-winger ..... and Bowles is THE best thing to happen to UNC since, well, maybe forever.

    This fraudulent raise was run thru by Oblinger without Erskine's approval. Justice WILL be served before this is done.

  • oldschooltarheel Jul 10, 2008

    Hopefully WRAL will stay on this story - I for one don't trust that little weasel Erskine as far as I could drop kick him. I suspect first chance he & his cronies get they'll sliiide this one through & then sit there wide-eyed, blinking & gaping. Jesse Helms may have been a mixed bag but, oh Lordy, he sure had the folks at Chapel Thrill pegged from waaaay back in the day (did it on WRAL too - ain't that so?)

  • StanleyCup Jul 10, 2008

    I wonder if this inquiry is to pacify us the p*ssed off people and the raise will stick or does Bowles intend to really do something about it. The two biggest democrats in the state will look out for each other.

  • wcnc Jul 10, 2008

    Mary and Mike have no PR sense. The "right" thing to do,when offered an 88% raise when state workers are barely seeing 25, would've been to politely decline the raise (and then leak that to the press). Instead, these arrogant elitists claim there is nothing wrong with an 88% raise in these economic times.....

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