Boucher on Herbst UCONN Contract

December 30, 2014

Hartford, CT – State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) released the following statement today Re: UCONN President Susan Herbst new contract.

“State universities have come under increasing scrutiny for excessive executive pay, soaring student debt, and tuition increases. The findings of the Policy Institute for Policy Studies suggest these issues are closely related. They report that schools with highest paid presidents at the top 25 public universities have higher student debt and that their president salary increases were more than double than at an average research university.

“The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that, ‘Median presidential pay hit $441,392 in 2011-12, an increase of 4.7 percent from the previous academic year.’ According to The College Board, ‘the average tuition at a four-year college increased by 8.3% and total state higher education appropriations declined by 7.5 percent nationally in the 2011-2012 school year.’

“UCONN President Herbst certainly knows her worth and must have signaled she was looking to move on. As the state’s flagship university I can understand why the Board of Trustees may have felt it necessary to sweeten the pot. UConn is free to hire personnel, set and raise salaries, make major purchases, enter into contracts and lease property without state oversight because it is exempt from the State Personnel Act.

“This is one of the reasons some would like to see UCONN and its Foundation be more open and transparent. Even as other top tier universities that are doling out million dollar packages, many still believe that it is not fair to increase the tuition on hard working students and their families on the one hand and then approve a nearly $1 million dollar contract to its President.

“I do believe that President Herbst is a talented professional who has grown her administrative skills at UCONN and deserves to be well compensated. However, this comes on the heels of a 12% raise that Governor is giving 200 of his staff.

“If Connecticut was roaring back from its economic woes like most other states there would be less criticism. But it is not. It’s staring at billion dollar deficits, one of only 6 states to lose population, aging infrastructure problems and through the roof special education costs that our school systems could use some help with.

“There is a public perception that the government sector is living in a bubble, insulated from the reality that people and businesses are enduring. This action may feel like rubbing more salt in a wound.”