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University of Alaska president gets surprise pay hike

Board of Regents takes unexpected action at meeting

Posted: September 24, 2011 - 11:12pm

The University of Alaska’s Board of Regents on Friday gave new President Pat Gamble a surprise gift Friday, boosting his pay 8.5 percent.

Gamble’s new salary will be $320,000, up from $295,000 when he was hired last year.

Board Chair Fuller Cowell of Anchorage said the increase was in recognition of the job Gamble has done since taking charge of the UA system last June.

“Things have gone very well this year, he’s done an outstanding job,” Cowell said.

The salary increase was among items discussed during four hours of executive sessions during the board’s meeting last week at the University of Alaska Southeast campus in Juneau.

A proposal to raise Gamble’s pay had not been on the Regents’ published meeting agenda.

The action came late Friday, on a motion by Anchorage Regent Mary Hughes. It passed 8-1.

The lone “no” vote came from Regent Ken Fisher of Juneau.

He later praised Gamble, and said he vote was not a reflection on the job he’s done.

“I was primarily trying to save money for the university,” he said. “I couldn’t be more happy with his service so far.”

Gamble became president on June 1, 2010. Hughes said the pay raise would begin in Gamble’s second year, making it retroactive to June 1 of this year.

Regents praised what they said were his successes at improving collaboration between the state’s three universities and their far-flung campuses.

Fisher, however, noted that Gamble had only just recently begun with the university system.

“We had just entered into a contract with the president last year, and I was happy with the fiscal package that we’d provided,” he said.

Cowell defended the pay increase.

“We were hiring a new president of the university system a year ago, and the board decided to do that at a fairly low rate, much lower than the former president even,” he said.

UA spokeswoman Kate Ripley said that even with the raise, Gamble’s salary is still about 10 percent below the median pay of public, multi-campus university presidents.

State records show that in 2009, Hamilton’s last full year, his salary was $312,00, with bonuses and other additional benefits that brought his total compensation to $531,000.

Gamble’s compensation package, in addition to his new $320,000 salary, also gets a university provided house in Fairbanks, a $9,600-a-year vehicle allowance.

Last year Gamble also received a moving allowance of about $25,000.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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