President Daniel O. Bernstine, Portland State University president, accepted a $4,392 raise in salary.
On Jan. 1, 2002, Bernstine, Oregon State University President Paul G. Risser and University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer were offered a 3 percent annual salary raise. The three universities operate under the Oregon University System, which is responsible for granting the salary increases.
From January 2001 to December 2001 the presidents’ salaries were $146,004 and the raise boosted them to $150,396.
Upon hearing of his raise, OSU President Risser gave notice that he would be donating the $4,392 to OSU students experiencing financial difficulties. Risser wrote a letter to the OSU Foundation, which asked that an account be established through the financial aid office and distributed to students based on their hardship.
“It is a modest amount,” Risser said, “but I just don’t feel right accepting a raise while the state is looking to cut $700 million from its budget. Hopefully, this can make the difference for one or two students who are on the cusp of making it financially.”
Concerns over the mounting cutbacks are evident in the student-organized rally held at Pioneer Courthouse Square on Jan. 31. More than 1,000 people were in attendance Thursday afternoon to send the message that funding for education is important to students.
President Bernstine said he did not have plans to donate his salary increase and Frohnmayer has given no indication of intentions to donate his increase either.
Bob Bruce in the Chancellor’s Office said that at least once since Measure 5, the presidents within the Oregon University System have collaboratively not taken their raises, at a time when budgets were being slashed drastically.
Bruce also said, “Our presidents aren’t highly paid.” A comparison can be made between PSU President Bernstine’s salary and those of other presidents within PSU’s peer universities. Some of those universities include the University of Northern Iowa, Cleveland State University, University of Texas at San Antonio and University of Colorado, Denver.
On Dec. 1, 1999, President Bernstine was making $137,928, while the median salary for the presidents within PSU’s peer group was $194,195.
The Oregon University System faces a tough job balancing budget cuts and the need to compete for skilled, qualified presidents. “Universities don’t fare well in the market place for salaries. We know this,” Bruce said. In order to attract future presidents, Oregon’s schools are struggling to contend in the marketplace.