“This puts him right in the middle of the Big Ten as far as president’s salaries go,” IU spokesman Mark Land said.
IU faculty and staff will also see a pay raise this upcoming year, albeit one of only 1.5 to 3 percent. The IU Board of Trustees approved the raise, which is to be merit-based, in June.
A month earlier, the trustees approved a 5.5 percent raise in tuition and fees for resident students at IU Bloomington, as well as a 6.7 percent raise for nonresident students.
Tuition also increased at IU-Purdue University Indianapolis and across IU’s regional campuses. This will result in an allotted $12.9 million for maintenance and improvement projects on all IU campuses, the trustees said.
IU has a current maintenance backlog of more than $600 million.
News of the raise has not gone without criticism.
The local chapter of Communication Workers of America, which represents 1,700 support staff at IU Bloomington and IU Northwest, called the increase “frustrating.”
Chapter President Bryce Smedley said the 1.5 percent raise the support staff is earning does not match inflation, and some staff members are having trouble paying the bills. Others, he said, are even facing layoffs.
“We were told there’s no money, that this is not the time for raises,” Smedley said. “It was a hard pill to swallow, but we made that sacrifice. So to hear this is upsetting.”
Smedley said McRobbie should stand in solidarity with his employees.
“If we are to sacrifice as a team and as a community, we need leaders that lead by example,” he said.
But IU Board of Trustees chair William Cast said even with the current financial strain, the raise is a necessary one.
IU is an American Association of Universities research university, of which there are only 59 in North America. In the coming months, around 30 of those are going to be looking for people in McRobbie’s position, Cast said, as many presidents are nearing retirement.
“The headhunters aren’t going to go after people who are untried,” he said. “They are going to go after someone who has shown he can handle a university like this.”
It’s important to keep McRobbie around not only because of the job he’s doing, Cast said, but also because of the hassle that can be caused by turnover if McRobbie was lured away.
In the past decade, IU has had three presidents, including McRobbie. With a change in president comes a change in staff and programs.
“You talk to people from the last seven to eight years who have gone through those changes, you’ll see there’s a very high cost to turnover like that,” Cast said.
Additionally, presidential salaries in the Big Ten are increasingly competitive. While Purdue University President France Córdova, who is not receiving a raise this year, earns $431,000, many presidents in the conference make considerably more than McRobbie.
The annual cost of employment for Ohio State University’s E. Gordon Gee is more than $1.8 million, making him the highest paid public university president in the country.
Graham Spanier of Pennsylvania State University also earns more than the IU president with an annual salary of $800,592, as does University of Michigan’s Mary Sue Coleman, who earns $783,850, and University of Illinois President Michael Hogan, who earns $620,000.
“There’s a high demand for people in his position,” Cast said.
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