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Records show OK higher ed board sweetens pot for employees

By   /   August 27, 2013  /   1 Comment

By Patrick B. McGuigan | Oklahoma Watchdog

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sixteen high-ranking employees of the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education already earning more than $100,000 a year received hefty increases thanks to a recently OK’d 5-percent pay hike package.

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OKLAHOMA OPPORTUNITY? Seventeen employees of the state Regents for Higher Education earn more than $100,000, according to payroll records.

Another employee, serving as an assistant general counsel, received a much higher increase. In all, 17 Regent employees now draw salaries of more than $100,000 a year.

“Given that tuition and fees have soared over the last decade — and that eight public institutions in Oklahoma now have students who are more likely to default on their loans than they are to graduate — these pay raises for affluent administrators are as inappropriate as they are unsurprising,” said Brandon Dutcher, vice president for policy at the free-market think tank Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, and an outspoken critic of the pay increases

“As long as higher education remains the fourth branch of government, plenty of savvy Oklahomans — including ex-politicians and staffers —will continue to find a cozy home on the higher-ed payroll.”

Information provided to Oklahoma Watchdog from the Regents’ staff revealed that 13 employees in the administrative offices are among the state’s highest paid public employees.

The employees, work area and fiscal year 2013 vs. fiscal year 2014 salaries are:

  • Blake Sonobe (academic affairs) $185,000 to $194,250 annually;
  • Debra Stuart (educational partnerships)  $140,595 to $147,675;
  • Glen D. Johnson (chancellor) $300,983 to $316,032;
  • Raquel Schmitz (administration)  $130,000 to $136,500;
  • Jon Domstead (state system auditor) $120,750 to $126,788;
  • Robert Anthony (general counsel) $174,305 to $183,020;
  • David Harting (assistant general counsel) $77,400 to $102,270;
  • Amanda Paliotta (budget and finance) $180,000 to $189,000;
  • Hollye Hunt (governmental relations) $120,000 to $126,000;
  • Kermit McMurray (student affairs) $140,071 to $147,075;
  • Tony Hutchinson (strategic planning analysis, and workforce and economic development) $155,00 to $162,750;
  • Bryce Fair (state grants and scholarships) $105,812 to $111,103;
  • Ricky Steele (information technology, telecommunications) $103,312 to $108,478.

Two employees in the Oklahoma College Assistance Program who received increases putting them in the upper portion of all state government employees were:

  • Rick Sykora (financial and system services, chief financial officer)  $100,800 to $105,840;
  • Rick Edington (college assistance) $107,625 to $113,006.

Two employees in the ONENET telecommunications system for Higher Education who also netted hefty raises were:

  • James Deaton (chief tech officer) $113,900 to $119,595;
  • Von Royal (information technology, telecommunications) $145,000 to $152,250.

Angela Caddell, interim director of communications for the Higher Ed Regents, told Oklahoma Watchdog the pay hikes “were funded through internal cost efficiencies generated by contract savings, adjusted travel budgets, and cost sharing on IT hardware and software.”

“No new appropriations were used to support the cost of living adjustments, and employees in the State Regents’ Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP) and OneNet divisions (nearly 40 percent of the State Regents’ workforce) are not supported by state appropriations. The cost of the pay increase is approximately $1 million,” she said.

In all, Paliotta said previously, 268 employees of the Higher Regents received pay increases.

Contact Patrick B. McGuigan, Oklahoma City bureau chief for the Watchdog.org network, at Patrick@capitolbeatok.com and follow us on Twitter: @capitolbeatok.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Patrick B. McGuigan is bureau chief for the Oklahoma City Bureau of Watchdog.org, and works from the press room at the state Capitol. He is also the editor of CapitolBeatOK, and Associate Publisher of The City Sentinel newspaper. In 2013, The Washington Post blog “The Fix” designated Pat one of the best reporters in Oklahoma. In addition to the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists, where he serves as state secretary-treasurer, Pat is a member of the National Press Club and the Tulsa Press Club.

  • Gyst53

    My wife has been a “highly effective” elementary teacher in Indiana for over 35 years. Her last actual salary increase was almost 8 years ago. The Indiana Board of Education (formerly under Dr. Tony [A thru F] Bennett) and legislature are now trying to scale back the teachers retirement and reduce their healthcare benefits. From your article, it appears
    Oklahoma is doing OK in the Education Executive compensation package arena and has job descriptions covering the gamut of educational administration. How much is enough?

    I hope your teachers in Oklahoma receive better treatment than Indiana teachers! It is a very poor illustration of leading by example….