BANGOR, Maine — While confronting a $36 million budget shortfall, the University of Maine System gave its top financial administrator a $40,000 raise between last fall and this spring, according to reports of employee salaries that the system publishes twice a year.
The salary for Rebecca Wyke, UMS vice chancellor for administration and finance, was listed at $205,000 annually as of April 8, 2014. That’s up from $165,000 listed in the report published Nov. 5, 2013.
“Is it a lot of money? Yes,” said University of Maine System Chancellor James Page, when asked Tuesday about the raise amid widespread budget cutting efforts at the seven UMS campuses and system office. “And we’re looking at reducing our financial management structure on an ongoing basis. But you do need to have the right people in place to get the job done.”
Page said Wyke was a finalist for a position at a higher education institution out of state that would have paid her more. He brought the question of her raise to the board of trustees in January, and they ratified the decision in an executive session. There was no mention of the raise in the open session.
“We determined that her leaving at this time would have significant adverse impact on the projects that we now have underway,” he said.
Wyke declined to be interviewed for this story.
The median salary of a vice chancellor at universities that award doctorate degrees in the United States is $326,863, according to the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. The median salary for a vice chancellor at any institution, including those that only have two-year programs, is $186,750.
The chancellor added that he believed it would cost what the system was paying Wyke or more to replace her.
Wyke received the only retention-based raise at the system office this year, though several other staff in the office received 2 percent raises, the system’s public relations manager, Peggy Leonard, said.
The raise comes at a financially stressful time for the system. In November, Wyke told the board of trustees that the universities would need to cut $36 million, or about 6.6 percent of the system’s budget, in order to pass a balanced budget in fiscal year 2015.
Page told the state Legislature in March that up to 165 full-time jobs would have to be cut as a result of the budget shortfall.
For months, each of the seven universities that make up the system have been looking for places to make cuts.
The University of Southern Maine was tasked with finding $14 million, or about 10 percent of its budget. USM President Theodora Kalikow proposed eliminating three programs — American and New England studies, geosciences, arts and humanities at the school’s Lewiston-Auburn College facility. She also proposed cutting 20-30 faculty positions, and 12 professors received notice in March that they would be laid off, but those layoffs have since been taken off the table.
The University of Maine announced last month that it would cut $9.7 million, or about 3.5 percent of its budget, by dipping into its savings, letting 61 positions go vacant next year through attrition and between seven and nine nonfaculty layoffs.
Less than two weeks before UMaine’s announcement, University of Maine at Augusta President Allyson Handley announced the elimination of 24 full- and part-time positions, 10 of which were layoffs. In addition, 33 staff members will see their hours reduced.
And in February, University of Maine-Farmington President Kathryn Foster announced that 18 positions have been eliminated as part of a 9 percent campus spending reduction in fiscal year 2015. Fifteen of those positions already were vacant.
Leonard said in March that $1.4 million of the budget cuts will come from the system office. Information on where those cuts would be made was not available Tuesday.