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Pitt chancellor, top officials get raises

| Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, 10:28 a.m.

University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg will pocket a 3.3 percent raise or $18,500 for the 2012-13 fiscal year, bringing his base annual compensation to $580,000.

Six other university officers will get raises ranging from 3.3 percent to 15 percent under a package the Compensation Committee of Pitt's board of trustees approved on Tuesday.

Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia Beeson will see her annual salary jump $34,000 to $374,000; Executive Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Jerome Cochrane are up $18,000 to $493,000; Secretary of the Board of Trustees and Assistant Chancellor Jean B. Ferketish, gets an $8,000 hike to $216,000; Arthur Levine, Senior Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine gets a $25,500 boost to $787,500; Chief Financial Officer Arthur Ramicone gets $13,000 more to $357,000; and Chief Investment Officer Amy Marsh got the biggest cash increase of $53,000 to $405,000.

While trustees raised salaries, university officials struggle to balance the budget two years after a dramatic decline in state funding.

Tuition increased 3 percent this year after an 8.5 percent increase last year. Pitt introduced a variety of cost reductions, including a voluntary early retirement incentive program that resulted in the departure of 350 staffers, suspended admissions to three graduate programs and a consolidation of some administrative functions at two branch campuses.

Nordenberg, in his 18th year as chancellor, last year asked that his compensation be frozen at the 2010-11 level for 2011-12. Trustees Chairman Stephen R. Tritch said Nordenberg insisted his raise be kept to the lowest level among senior officers this year.

Some board members are concerned that it is too low. Tritch said an independent compensation consultant's study showed that Pitt's senior officers are paid less than those at similar institutions, “particularly given the seniority of most of its members and the extraordinary record of accomplishment that the team has helped to create.”

Student reaction to the raises varied.

“It's sort of ridiculous,” said Chelsea Eddington, 27, who is from the Poconos area. “I'm a graduate student. I make about $20,000 a year, and I have about $50,000 in undergraduate debt.”

Business major Joel Yahner, 20, of Brockway said Pitt's leaders do a great job. “I'm just glad the chancellor isn't worrying about his pay,” he said.

Nordenberg's 2011-12 base salary of $561,500 put him 40th in earnings in a recent survey of presidential compensation at 190 research universities published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Tritch said Nordenberg's base compensation does not include benefits. Pitt federal tax documents for 2010 — the most recent year available — revealed that Nordenberg collected housing and pension benefits valued at $133,544 that year.

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