Bernstine’s pay increases by $118,908

    The State Board of Higher Education approved a $118, 908 annual salary increase for Portland State President Daniel Bernstine September 8, funded by the PSU Foundation with private money.

    Along with a $50,704 increase in Bernstine’s pay in July, Bernstine’s salary has nearly doubled in just over two months. Bernstine’s total compensation is now $340,008 per year, retroactive to the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1. Bernstine’s yearly salary before July 1 totaled $170,396.

    The Oregon University System Chancellor’s office worked with a consulting firm to collect data on seven comparable institutions around the country and found that Bernstine’s salary was the lowest. Diane Saunders, director of communications for the Oregon University System, said the goal for the state of Oregon is to bring salaries up to 86 percent of each peer group, for the president as well as for faculty.

    ”My guess is that the foundation felt it was important for Bernstine’s salary to have equity with his peers,” Saunders said. “Now his salary is in line with that of President [Edward] Ray at [Oregon State University]. Even with the foundation supplement, President Bernstine is still below that of his peers across the country. It’s making up for lost time.”

    Both President Bernstine and the PSU Foundation declined to comment directly on Bernstine’s salary supplement, referring all questions to Saunders. Bernstine has not received a raise in the past four years.

    Jonathan Uto, admissions counselor and president of PSU full-term faculty union, said that he thinks the money could have been invested into academic departments and faculty salaries, instead of raising President Bernstine’s salary by $119,000.

    ”I’m certainly not surprised he got another raise, but I never imagined it would be that much,” Uto said. “We could have provided four full-ride scholarships for needy students with those funds.”

    The average faculty pay rate of PSU professors is currently 86 percent of their peers, according to Jay Kenton, vice chancellor for finance and administration for the Oregon University System. Kenton said some faculty members are paid at 75 percent of their peers, while others are paid at 110 percent.

    ”We agree that faculty salaries are inadequate, and we’re working extremely hard to rectify that,” said Saunders.

    Kenton said he thinks that this is the first time that the PSU Foundation has supplemented the president’s salary to this extent. Kenton said he thinks that the foundation will continue the salary supplement into future years.

    Last December, after PSU nearly saw a faculty strike, faculty members received a 6 percent increase in pay. Still, many faculty members complain of the lower-than-typical pay at PSU.

    ”In humanities, the average salary is much lower than it appears, because so many professors are not on the tenure track,” said Assistant Professor of English Jennifer Ruth. “Several of my peers who are not on the tenure track have worked for the university for over ten years, have PhDs, and are not earning living wages.”

    Having professors and high-level administrators at compensation levels significantly below market levels poses problems down the road as well. First, second and third choices for open faculty positions have often turned down jobs at PSU due to higher paying offers elsewhere.

    ”We are in the position of having some of the best faculty being cherry-picked by other universities that can offer more competitive rates,” said Saunders.

    A similar situation might be faced here at PSU should Bernstine depart. “If Dan was to leave, it would be almost impossible to replace him at his old salary,” Kenton said.

    The PSU Foundation raises money from alumni, family and businesses through telemarketing and other campaigns, which “provides funds for recruiting and retaining exceptional faculty members, enhancing academic programs, increasing scholarships for deserving students, and ensuring that Portland State has the funding necessary to support new and emerging programs,” according to their website.

    ”The question we ought to be asking is whether those donors thought they were helping to fund programs for students or increasing the president’s salary with their money,” Uto said.