The UC Regents voted Thursday to approve a 3 percent increase in administrative pay for 21 members of senior management who have had no pay increase since 2007, amounting to about $300,000 total. While this move makes sense for the university, some sensibilities are rankled. It is difficult to prioritize any part of the university over another; all parts must work in concert to benefit the whole. As students, we naturally favor the needs of those with whom we have the most contact, namely teachers and graduate student instructors. While the issue is complicated, we support the regents in their decision to increase administrative pay. But we suggest that other positions warrant increase and attention as well and must not be overlooked.
A 3 percent increase in administrative salary accounts for the average cost of living increase for the past two years. It does not account for the market value of administrative positions at schools of similar size and reputation to UC Berkeley, though our public status does change the expectation somewhat. Simply put, every other school that is ranked near ours can afford to pay more, so talent will flow to them. Berkeley cannot expect to attract the best candidates for each position when it cannot compete monetarily. With that in mind, 3 percent seems a modest and acceptable increase.
While this increase does not directly affect other employees on campus, however, the comparison is not favorable. As GSIs fight for the right to unionize, administrative pay increases. Lecturers and adjuncts struggle without health care coverage or adequate pay in a battle that should be the shame of academia, but administrative pay increases. Facilities age and construction drags on, but administrative pay increases. Tuition soars and will likely increase to the rate of whatever the market will bear, but administrative pay increases.
Administrative pay at Berkeley must keep pace with the market to maintain our position as the best public university in the world. But this must not occur at the expense of all other items in the UC Berkeley ledger. If remaining competitive is the goal, UC Berkeley must look to the fair employment of our graduate students, the best possible compensation for tenured professors, as well as fair pay to adjuncts, lecturers, lab assistants, storekeepers, food service workers and everyone else who is part of this school.
Administrators are absolutely entitled to their 3 percent, but we must take care that they do not become our very own 1 percent.