The board of regents voted unanimously yesterday to approve University of Texas at Austin (UT) President Jay Hartzell’s $1.25 million salary, more than a quarter-million jump from the salary of his predecessor Greg Fenves.
At the same meeting the day before, the university system’s financial projections showed a $400 million drop in adjusted income by the end of July from the last fiscal year according to Scott Kelley, Executive Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs.
“We still are positive,” Kelley said Wednesday. “Again, a reflection of the campus’ efforts of working through some challenging times as revenue sources were decreased as a result of the pandemic. […] We project ending the year positively for all of our campuses.”
While the other campuses have been projecting losses, Austin is “expected to be a little bit favorable from where they were in 2019,” Kelley added.
Not every member of the UT community shared Kelley’s optimism. A UT staff member named Greg Bosley joined the meeting virtually to voice his complaints, pointing out a swath of recent layoffs and pay freezes on top of alleged obstruction to the regents’ meeting.
“I do want to mention that I’ve heard from some other […] UT community members who did not get time to speak at this meeting because of technicalities specifically they did not identify the item on the agenda which they wished to address,” Bosley said.
“As of April, Hartzell announced financial mitigation measures, and seven months [out] we still have hire freezes and merit increases freezes. […] I know people who volunteered to risk working on campus in place of coworkers whose family members are at higher risk for COVID, and yet those workers have not received hazard pay or protective equipment. Hundreds have gotten sick, and two have tragically died.”
Bosley went on to weigh the steady rise of the president’s salary over the past decade against mounting student debt. Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Eltife defended the board’s spending choices, pointing to efforts to help low-income students.
“You were the only one who signed up to speak on this item. The others wanted to speak on items that weren’t on our agenda. […] We just don’t allow that, or we’d have a free-for-all,” Eltife told Bosley.
“The University of Texas’ enrollment of low-income students is actually up from last year, and one of those reasons is because this board committed $165 million — unprecedented — toward […] tuition and fees for just those families […] and also additional assistance. So we are doing everything in our power […] to help eliminate the student debt situation.”
Fenves famously rejected a $1 million base salary in 2015, settling for $750,000 per year.
Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.