UNC Board of Governors raised salaries for 12 chancellors in closed meeting

Posted November 2, 2015

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt

— The University of North Carolina system's Board of Governors raised the salaries of 12 chancellors while meeting in a closed session on Friday.

Those receiving raises included North Carolina State University Chancellor Randy Woodson, who is the beneficiary of a privately funded compensation package in addition to his state salary, and UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt.

The raises granted were retroactive to July 1.

Officials with the Board of Governors refused to disclose on Friday what actions the board had taken, a move that open government advocates say runs counter to North Carolina's public meetings and public records laws. UNC officials insist they have the right to withhold that information.

"Our legal counsel does not believe that the Open Meetings Act supports the opinion that all actions taken by a public body must be taken in open session," UNC system spokeswoman Joni Worthington said via email Monday. "We are mindful that State law requires us to keep employee personnel information confidential, with certain exceptions. Although employers may release information on current salary and prior salary changes, we do not think that information about salaries that have been authorized by not yet administratively implemented or even communicated to employees can be considered current."

But others say the state's public records and public meetings laws don't give the board that kind of flexibility.

"There is no exception for across the board raising of salaries. That must be done in public," said Jonathan Jones, a lawyer and director of the N.C. Open Government Coalition, based at Elon University.

There is an exemption in the law for negotiating contracts, Jones said, but not for changing a salary of a current employee.

"The minute the board voted to raise the salary, it became current," he said. "There’s no special exception to the personnel disclosure statutes for administrative implementation, nor for notification of the employee."

The agenda for Friday's meeting raises other questions, he said.

"The agenda certainly gives no indication they were going into closed session to discuss employment contracts. Although looking at the agenda, I’m also curious what the justification for the 'president’s briefing' and the 'chairman’s report' being behind closed doors is," he said.

Salaries of UNC chancellors*

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*Information current as of Nov. 2, 2015.
**Woodson's salary in this table reflects only state funds, not the stipend offered by the N.C. State Foundation.

The raises, some of which amounted to more than 19 percent, came in a year when most rank-and-file UNC faculty and staff received only $750 one-time bonuses.

Woodson's state-funded salary moves from $520,000 a year to $590,000, a 13.4 percent increase. His total compensation package will now total $790,000, more than the Board of Governors has agreed to pay incoming UNC President Margaret Spellings.

Folt's salary expands by 9.6 percent, from $520,000 per year to $570,000.

Earlier this year, the UNC system established new salary ranges for chancellors based on market demands.

A document issued by the Board of Governors on Monday details the state-funded salaries, including the most recent changes, of all UNC chancellors.

Woodson, current UNC President Tom Ross and Spellings are the only executives in the UNC system with contracts.

The remainder of the system's top campus executives have "letters of appointment" that lay out the general terms of hire but do not define a term of service. Those letters generally lay out a starting salary as well as benefits that include:

  • a residence provided by the UNC system, complete with housekeeping and groundskeeping services, as well as utilities
  • a car allowance or university-owned car
  • membership in a "club" for professional use
  • moving expenses

Spellings' contract begins March 1, 2016, and runs through Feb. 29, 2021. Its provisions are similar to those found in the letters of appointment for chancellors. For example, it includes up to $35,000 in moving expenses. However, some features are unique. For example, it allows the Board of Governors to establish an extra compensation plan similar to Woodson's.

Spellings' contract also allows her to continue serving on "up to two boards for which she receives compensation." She is currently a director for American Funds, an investment company, and is on the board of advisers for Ceannate Corp,, a company that says it provides "key expertise in the financial environment surrounding education in the United States."


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  • Dolly Butler Nov 5, 2015
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    Hope they all, every single one of them, turn this bribe down

  • Paul Maxwell Nov 4, 2015
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    "This" has nothing to do with sports, and everything to do with the continuing dismantling of public education, at all levels, in North Carolina. Keep 'em dumb, keep 'em down.

  • Charlie Watkins Nov 4, 2015
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    I think this will quieten down if UNC wins the National Championship in basketball. I do not agree with the raises at ECU and NC State. ECU is 4-5 in football and their program is not trending upward at all. A $63,000 raise to Ballard is wrong in face of the football. Same at NC State. Their football and basketball both do not justify this kind of raise.

    Let us put things in perspective before handing out big raises.

  • Mick Flynn Nov 3, 2015
    user avatar

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    I didn't say anything about party affiliation. I said they were liberal elites. And I wasn't referring to the BOG anyway. I was referring to the chancellors that are getting the outrageous salaries. If you want to lookup their party affiliation go ahead, but I really don't care.

  • Matt Wood Nov 3, 2015
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    Actually, 29 of the 35 members are registered Republicans (so not liberal at all). Before 2013 the BOG consisted of 19 Republicans, 14 Democrats and two unaffiliated members.

  • Mick Flynn Nov 3, 2015
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    When's the last time you got a 14% raise. These are the same liberal elites that sit in their ivory towers and criticize CEO salaries.

  • Brian White Nov 3, 2015
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    I was just going off of a hypothetical scenario the other poster mentioned. It obviously didn't include a line item accounting of every expense a person comes across, but there was still money left over. Your salary examples below are still about 50% higher than your average starting salary of a humanities graduate, and I've seen plenty of them live comfortably and still have money to blow $50 at a bar every Friday night. Nobody is saying you're going to get rich working for the State (unless you're a chancellor, so let's get back to the actual story).

  • Jim Halbert Nov 3, 2015
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    Right, when I think of corrupt, inept microcosm for ruling class arrogance I think of all the horrible socialist programs like fire and police services, social security, the public education system, and the US post office. We should really end/privatize all of them.

  • Brian White Nov 3, 2015
    user avatar

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    I didn't say it would be "easy peasy". I said that they shouldn't be living paycheck to paycheck. These positions, even at the low end of the pay band, pay enough where a fiscally responsible person can live on a budget that doesn't rely on counting down the days till the end of the month, and still have money in a rainy day fund for emergencies. You know you're getting the same amount of money each month; set a budget and live within your means.

    And if you have children, you have additional tax benefits and two incomes to help cover those expenses.

  • Rudy Bizzell Nov 3, 2015
    user avatar

    They should have to take a pay/benefits cuts. The board should all be fired. One other thing is that I don't get any increases on my private pension. Cola or interest on the money.