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Pitt chancellor's pay increases to $401,500

Nordenberg gets 3% raise

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

By Bill Schackner, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

University of Pittsburgh trustees yesterday increased Chancellor Mark Nordenberg's salary by 3 percent to $401,500, citing "remarkable" gains at Pitt under his leadership since 1995.

The trustees' compensation committee approved Nordenberg's 2003-04 increase during a 10-minute conference call. The amount is smaller than the nearly 14 percent raise he received last year as part of a package that drew criticism from some on and off campus.

As he did last year, Nordenberg will get $75,000 extra as a retention bonus if he stays in office through 2006-07, or is removed involuntarily for reasons other than cause. The trustees, as part of last year's package, voted to give Nordenberg $75,000 retention bonuses for each of the next five years but deferred payment until the end of those five years.

The committee also approved raises yesterday of 3 percent to 5.9 percent for six top Nordenberg deputies. Among them, Provost James Maher, Executive Vice Chancellor Jerome Cochran and Vice Chancellor for Budget and Controller Arthur Ramicone, each will get yearly $50,000 retention bonuses under the same terms as Nordenberg, spokesman Robert Hill said.

In a statement and in a phone interview afterward, Ralph J. Cappy, chairman of Pitt's board of trustees, said Nordenberg has led Pitt through eight years of unprecedented growth. Alluding to enrollment and financial strains of the early 1990s, Cappy said the administration led by Nordenberg "played a major role in one of the great turn-around stories in American higher education."

Pitt yesterday cited, among other indicators, a 140 percent boost in private fund raising to $94.5 million a year, a doubling of the share of freshmen in the top 10 percent of their high school class, a 120 percent rise in freshmen applications and four consecutive football bowl appearances.

"Many people should share in the credit for Pitt's remarkable progress. They include, in particular, members of the faculty and staff," Cappy said. "However, this also is a case in which effective leadership has helped transform an institution."

The raises approved for other administrators yesterday were also smaller than a year ago. They included those for: Cochran, 3 percent, to $278,000; Maher, 3 percent, to $296,000; Ramicone, 3 percent, to $206,000; board secretary and assistant chancellor Jean Ferketish, 3.7 percent, to $155,500; Senior Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and medical school Dean Arthur Levine, 3 percent, to $607,500; and Treasurer Amy Marsh, 5.9 percent to $180,000.

Nationally, raises and bonuses for campus executives are increasingly a sore point as tuition costs rise more rapidly.

At Pitt, few last year disputed Nordenberg successes, but there was discontent over the size and timing of raises given him and his top aides months after a 14 percent tuition increase.

But this year's smaller raises will be easier to justify, said Nicholas Bircher, president of the University Senate, a body representing faculty, staff and students at the 34,000 student university.

"I think there will be some consternation that is caused by the magnitude of the overall numbers," he said. "On the other hand, if you look at comparable institutions, I'd say we're not far from parity."

Liz Culliton, 21, president of the undergraduate student government, said rising campus indicators suggest students are get something in return.

"Our admissions are through the roof. Our SAT scores are over 1,200 now, compared to what they were when I got in," she said. "Those are the kinds of things that are happening as a direct result of these people being in office."

Cappy said last year's raises were larger because Pitt wanted to start moving "Mark and the leadership team into parity with peers" at comparable research universities. He said complaints "had nothing to do with" this year's smaller increases.

Nordenberg, in a statement, said: "I am grateful for the board's strong expression of continuing confidence and support."

Hill said each senior officer gets the same benefits:

Use of an automobile for personal and business use, as determined by the chancellor;

A maximum $5,000 for medical expenses not met by insurance;

A maximum of $5,000 in financial planning and tax preparation;

Life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment insurance policies, each totaling $50,000 as well as three times the employee's salary rounded to the next higher thousand;

Five million dollars in personal liability insurance coverage;

Initiation fees and dues for clubs where prospective donors and business associates are entertained, as determined by the chancellor. Nordenberg's memberships are determined by the board.

Bill Schackner can be reached at or 412-263-1977.

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