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Higher ed presidents forgo raises after cutbacks at their institutions

ISU Administration Building, Pocatello
Otto Kitsinger
Boise State University on March 20, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

The State Board of Education renewed contracts for four Idaho university presidents on Friday, without raises, but with words of praise.

Idaho State University President Kevin Satterlee, Lewis-Clark State College President Cynthia Pemberton, University of Idaho President Scott Green and Boise State University President Marlene Tromp were all granted contract extensions through 2023.

Satterlee’s salary is $400,000 annually and Pemberton makes $240,000. Idaho Education News previously reported that Tromp makes $425,000 and Green makes $420,000.

University presidents traditionally rank among the state’s highest paid public employees.

“This board is very pleased with the performance of our higher ed institutions through this pandemic,” board president Kurt Liebich said in Friday’s meeting. “While many universities across the country weren’t open for business this year, ours were. That’s just tremendous leadership, not only from our four presidents but from their entire leadership teams and all the faculty.”

Typically when employees perform well, they get a raise, Liebich said. But in light of the “huge sacrifices” that leaders asked the universities to make this year — including furloughs and staff cuts — the presidents realized it wasn’t the right time to adjust their own salaries, Liebich said.

“All of our leaders realize that when you’re the leader of an institution, and you’ve asked your team to make those sacrifices, it’s probably not the right time to adjust compensation,” Liebich said.