Firings Down Below, Raises At The Top



During the interviews for Interim President at ASU this past spring, Marty Jones (an esteemed member of the ASU community) prefaced his question with the statement “ASU has had to make some difficult decisions related to personnel.”

That statement and his following question were somber, reflective and sad. ASU has eliminated numerous positions through attrition and outright termination during the course of this past academic year. Dr. Jones’ statement was not lost on anyone else in that room: the budget is far from stable and anyone could be next. Scary stuff.

In dire fiscal times, individuals within an institution of higher education typically come together as a cohesive unit to do what must be done to save the institution and one another. Individuals will take on more responsibility as positions are eliminated through attrition. Some will take voluntary pay cuts. Others will retire sooner than planned.

All of this sacrifice is done to save colleagues in the next office or cubical. It is what caring and selfless individuals do because they believe in the collective good, in the mission of the institution. And while many at ASU did take on additional responsibilities as they continued to see positions frozen and never filled, it was not enough. A number of individuals saw their positions “eliminated”—Otis Hager, Sally Kelly, Kateri Reeves, Roger Erickson, Comfort Cover, Julie Waechter, Mark Schoenecker, Jacqueline Martinez —to name a few. ASU’s operating budget was just too far-gone. Or was it?

In comparing ASU’s FY 17-18 salary data with FY 18-19, all administrators received some modest level of increase in compensation. However, it would appear there was room in the budget for some individuals to receive substantial raises—more than $2,000 per year. What is most bothersome is that those individuals who received substantial raises are mostly from the upper echelons of this institution. Below is a table comparing salary data for a select few administrators at ASU from FY 17-18 to FY 18-19. The results are, well, typical ASU.

2018-19 Raises

It is unfathomable to me how anyone could be so greedy, selfish, uncaring—with people losing their livelihoods, health insurance, mortgage payments, etc. How on earth can any of these individuals justify accepting such an increase in pay? Worse, how could Matt Nehring, Interim President at the time, justify approving these increases while firing others?

These increases range from $4,656 to $15,780 and these select raises alone total over $75,000. All that is funding that could have saved positions and retained our workforce – the people we are assured make ASU great and see students through to graduation. I just do not understand—Matt, Margaret, Heather, Shannon, Ana, Kevin, Ken, Sarah, or Karla. Would any of you care to help us understand? I’m willing to listen.