University of Alaska President Pat Gamble will donate give his $25,000 pay raise towards student scholarships this year, said university spokeswoman Kate Ripley.
The pay raise, approved by the university’s Board of Regents during its recent meeting in Juneau, amounts to an 8.5 percent increase to his current salary and was retroactive to last June.
Ripley said she didn’t know whether Gamble would continue to donate his pay increase for student scholarships beyond the current year.
“I don’t know what the board is going to do in future years, and neither does he,” she said.
The boost to Gamble’s pay was in the form of a salary increase, and not a bonus, so it would be expected to continue in future years. His total pay is now about $320,000, and also comes with a university-provided house and a $9,600 car allowance.
The pay raise, substantially more than that given to the University of Alaska’s employee groups, drew immediate public criticism.
Recent University of Alaska Southeast graduate Forest Kvasnikoff called the university’s pay rates “irrational” in an Empire opinion piece shortly thereafter.
Gamble is declining interview requests about the salary increase, Ripley said. His comments about donating the raise were made to her, she said.
University spending has come under fire from Alaska legislators in the past, as well as students when annual tuition increases take place.
A negative reaction is not unexpected, Ripley said.
“Pay raises are always sensitive issues,” she said.
“I’m sure he knew that would be the case with this one, as they all are.”
UA student leader Nicholas Pennington praised Gamble’s decision to contribute the pay increase for scholarships.
“It’s a great idea the president decided to donate the $25,000,” he said.
Pennington is president of the student body at the UA’s Kodiak campus, and is speaker of the Coalition of Student Leaders, representing students across the UA system.
He declined comment on the board’s decision to grant the raise.
Typically regents would have adopted new tuition increases at their September meeting in Juneau, but have delayed that decision until later in the year, Ripley said.
The pay raise for Gamble was not on the regents’ agenda for the Juneau meeting, but Ripley said it is legal to add additional items to the agenda during the meeting.
The raise was announced following an executive session of the board meeting from which the public was excluded.
Ripley said she didn’t know whether Gamble had been in the meeting as the raise was being considered.
“It wasn’t something that he was negotiating for or asking for,” she said.
Ripley did say Gamble knew of the raise before the board’s surprise action.
“He did have a little bit of a heads up,” she said.
She said she did not know when the decision to donate the raise had been made, or to which scholarship funds it would go.
• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at email@example.com.