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UNC Board of Governors approves pay raise for first lady

Posted September 12, 2008

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— The University of North Carolina Board of Governors on Friday approved a controversial 88 percent salary increase for first lady Mary Easley, who is a senior lecturer at North Carolina State University.

In early July, N.C. State raised Easley's salary from $90,300 to $170,000 as she moved from part-time to full-time status and took on additional duties.

But the pay increase never got proper approval from the Board of Governors. 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.

The board's chairwoman, Hannah Gage, has said she believes N.C. State misinterpreted the university system's policy, and UNC President Erskine Bowles said Friday that the raise was a reflection of her new duties.

"This is a big, complex job," he said.

Easley's credentials in helping to attract national speakers, Bowles said, give credence to the new position and salary.

But the pay increase has raised the ire of others, who question why the governor's wife received such a large increase.

"In this case, an 88 percent raise when state employees were suggested by the governor to get 1.5 percent is just preposterous," said Ardis Watkins, legislative affairs director for the State Employees Association of North Carolina.

N.C. State Chancellor James Oblinger released a statement Friday afternoon, saying Easley's new responsibilities include teaching three courses a year, conceiving, originating and directing a new center for public safety leadership, coordinating the university's premier speaking series and coordinating law-related programming for a growing number of pre-law students.

For three years, she was an executive-in-residence and senior lecturer, managed the Millennium Speakers Program and taught graduate-level law classes.

Previously, Easley worked as a prosecutor and taught law at North Carolina Central University.

"Mary Easley's outstanding academic and professional background, as well as the relationships she has built among thought leaders across the state and nation, bring significant insights and experience to our campus," Oblinger said.

About $55,000 of the $170,000 salary will come from non-state funds, according to administrative documents that justify the raise. Easley agreed to have the documents released.

"I am grateful for the support of the members of N.C State University Board of Trustees, the UNC Board of Governors, the president of the UNC Board of Governors, the president of the UNC System and all of my colleagues at N.C. State," she said in a written statement Friday afternoon. "I look forward to doing great work at N.C. State in the years to come."

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  • whiskers on kitten Sep 12, 2008

    At a time when hard working people are struggling to make ends meet, loosing there homes and more, anyone with a conscience would not take this kind of raise. Once again, it's the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I work for the state and am a single mom, who struggles from paycheck to paycheck. I would love a big raise, but they only give us a 1.5% raise. That doesn't even touch the cost of living.All good things must come to an end and someday these people will have to answer for their selfishness and uncaring ways. They will never have my support.

  • szdomb Sep 12, 2008

    "corruption has always been a factor in government since the founding of our country."

    Yeah ! But what level ? 1-3% or 70-80% ?

    27 years ago, when I came here, the system worked MUCH better. It was refreshing to me to see how much better it WAS than the communist system.

  • Mobile Geek Sep 12, 2008

    I know a Vice President working for a major world-wide financial corporation in NYC who doesn't make this much money. Ridiculous.

  • durhamguy Sep 12, 2008

    talk about price gouging

  • demo7691 Sep 12, 2008

    This is crazy and a slap in the face to the hard working tax payers of our state. Pure typical NC political corruption. Hes going to get himself and friends set up before he leaves office. Guess who has to take the blunt of the favor? Taxpayers

  • US VET Sep 12, 2008

    corruption has always been a factor in governmnt since the founding of our country.. why would anyone expect any different now...

  • dws Sep 12, 2008

    anyone else feel like a fire hydrant?

  • antoniowillia20 Sep 12, 2008

    I don't beleive I can truly put into words just how corrupt this is. To think that she truly believs she earned this on her own merit and not because she is the Governors wife makes me sick. For the board to approve it because of the same is the biggest slap in the face. I hope and pray that by this time next year every person on the board has lost there job and she can go with them. Maybe then we can get some honest people in postion to stop this kind of corruption.

  • szdomb Sep 12, 2008

    "Maybe now she can afford pay her own expenses when she goes to Italy and not rip the taxpayers off."

    Unbelievable !!! This brings back memories. Nightmares ... to be more precise. This salary increase and Easley's European vacations reminds me my Eastern European home country 30 years ago under absolute communist rules. These happened there every day over there as the system did not have checks and balances. Deja vu :((( Absolute power absolutely corrupts.

  • pagewood Sep 12, 2008

    I've been an advid supporter of the University of North Carolina for the last 40 years. Never ever again will I support any academic institution in North Carolina for the rest of my life!!! You people are pathetic!!!!

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