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Pitt's top execs won't get raises

| Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008, 12:00 p.m.

For the first time in 13 years, the University of Pittsburgh is freezing salaries of top executives at the recommendation of Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg.

Nordenberg would get a $75,000 retention bonus for remaining at the university. The retention bonus was started in 2002 and was renewed last year for five years.

But none of the university's senior executives will get raises this year because of tough economic times.

"I made that recommendation because, in these troubled times, it's the responsible thing to do," Nordenberg said during Wednesday's meeting of the compensation committee of Pitt's board of trustees in Posvar Hall on the university's Oakland campus.

The committee voted unanimously by conference call to accept his suggestion.

"I make that recommendation despite the high level of performance that marked these officers' (performance) this past year." Nordenberg said.

Brian Stelbotsky, 20, a junior from Erie, praised Nordenberg's recommendation to forgo a pay hike. "It's appropriate, especially considering the financial crisis," he said.

But Stelbotsky considers Nordenberg's $75,000 bonus hefty. "Most people live on less than just his retention bonus," he said.

In December 2007, Pitt trustees approved a 4 percent raise for Nordenberg, which put his annual salary minus the bonus at $460,000.

Even with that bonus, Nordenberg's salary lagged behind the highest-paid executive at the university: Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine. Levine's salary last year increased to $702,000.

Other executives' pay will remain at last year's levels: James V. Maher, senior vice chancellor and provost, $348,000; Jerome Cochran, executive vice chancellor and general counselor, $388,000; B. Jean Ferketish, secretary of the board and assistant chancellor, $190,000; Amy K. Marsh, treasurer and chief investment officer, $320,000; and Arthur G. Ramicone, vice chancellor for budget and controller, $265,000.

Maher, Cochran and Ramicone will receive retention bonuses of $50,000 each if they stay through June 2009.

Sundas Kumbah, 20, a junior from Presto, knows what she would do if she were in the chancellor's position.

"If I were him, I would take the money if I knew I were doing a great job here," she said. "I don't know why he wouldn't take it."

Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy, chairman of Pitt's board, praised Nordenberg and his staff and cited a study by Towers Perrin, a consulting firm with an office Downtown. It compared the pay of Pitt's leadership team with that of peer universities.

"Pitt continues to lag significantly behind its peers," Cappy said.

In 2007-08, the median pay and benefits rose 7.6 percent to $427,400 for presidents of public universities, according to a survey released last month by The Chronicle of Higher Education, an independent weekly.

The president and provost of Stanford University announced Tuesday they would take a 10 percent cut as part of an overall plan to trim the university's budget, The Chronicle reported.

The president, John L. Hennessy, received $701,501 in total compensation last fiscal year.

Presidential pay

The salaries of five CEOs of public universities in Pennsylvania:

• Mark A. Nordenberg, University of Pittsburgh: pay, $460,000; total compensation, $590,200, 2008-09

• Graham Spanier, Penn State University: pay, $590,000; total compensation, $611,367, 2007-08

• Ann Weaver Hart, Temple University: pay, $492,900; total compensation, $572,900, 2007-08

• John C. Cavanaugh, State System of Higher Education: pay, $327,500; total compensation, $357,925, 2008-09

• Tony Atwater, Indiana University of Pennsylvania: pay, $253,428; total compensation, $276,971, 2008-09

The salaries for five private universities in the state. All figures are for 2006-07:

• Jared L. Cohon, Carnegie Mellon University: pay, $486,779; total compensation, $591,876

• Charles J. Dougherty, Duquesne University: pay, $453,885; total compensation, $537,104

• Esther L. Barazzone, Chatham University: pay, $299,211; total compensation, $734,576

• Paul Hennigan, Point Park University: pay, $334,000; total compensation, $357,894

• Gregory Dell'Omo, Robert Morris University: pay, $308,642; total compensation, $331,284

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education and individual schools

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