UConn Rescinds Raises for Top Staff Amid Criticism

University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst on Friday said her top managers have agreed to forego some bonuses and raises that have come under fire from state lawmakers during a tight budget year.

In a letter to top lawmakers and the governor, Herbst said she believes the move will have a negative impact on the school's ability to hire top-level staff in the future, but believes it is "necessary in order to move forward."

The school says the give-backs include $40,000 from Richard Orr, the school's general counsel, $45,000 from Rachel Rubin, Herbst's chief of staff, and $13,000 from Laura Cruickshank, the school's chief architect and master planner.

They involve planned performance incentives, car allowances and, in Cruickshank's case, a raise she was scheduled to receive next January.

"The University made the right decision today," said Senate President Martin Looney, a Democrat. "At a time when painful reductions are being imposed throughout state government, UConn should not see itself as an isolated and privileged exception."

The compensation came under fire last month in figures first reported by The Connecticut Mirror. That report showed that Orr recently received raises totaling $55,000, bringing his salary to $275,000. Rubin makes $255,000 after receiving $30,000 in raises since 2013 and Cruickshank has seen her compensation increase from $225,000 to $270,000 since 2014.

Herbst remains on track to receive $194,500 in raises and bonuses this year under her contract. The letter did not mention her compensation.

The school had said the increases, approved in 2013 and 2014, were meant to bring the salaries of top staff in line with those at peer institutions.

"I understand the concerns you have voiced regarding the appearance of even a small number of pay increases in this fiscal environment," Herbst wrote. "Further, we at UConn place the highest value on the institution's relationship with state leaders, including those in the General Assembly, and do not wish to place unnecessary strain on that relationship because of this issue."

State Senator Dante Bartolomeo, a Democrat and the Senate chair of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee, called the move a reasonable resolution of the situation and the governor's office called it the "right decision."

"This was the smart step forward, and we are pleased that this matter is settled and we can all move on together," said Meg Green, a spokeswoman for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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