3 out of 4 senior staff members at UConn pass on controversial raises

Four senior staff members at the University of Connecticut agreed to forgo raises that were scheduled in 2013 and 2014. Michael Kirk, President Susan Herbst's chief of staff who is pictured above, chose not to forgo his raise. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

After weeks of controversy, three senior staff members at the University of Connecticut have agreed to forgo at least some of their sizable raises and incentives scheduled in 2013 and 2014.

The raises, altogether totaling about $205,000, were scheduled for UConn’s general counsel Richard Orr, chief architect Laura Cruickshank, Herbst’s chief of staff Rachel Rubin and Herbst’s deputy chief of staff Michael Kirk. All but Kirk agreed to give up some of what had been offered.

President Herbst made the announcement Friday in a letter addressed to State Sen. Danté Bartolomeo (D-Meriden) and Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, both of whom had been particularly critical of the raises.

“[W]hile no four salaries are a significant factor in the state’s budget or in UConn’s, in the three years since the agreements were signed, the state’s fiscal situation has deteriorated,” Herbst wrote. “I understand the concerns you have voiced regarding the appearance of even a small number of pay increases in this fiscal environment.”

Herbst wrote that the raises were in keeping with national standards but continued that she did not want to place “unnecessary strain” on the university’s relationship with state leaders.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey called the raises “tone deaf” on June 23, according to a CT Mirror report. On the same day Senate President Pro Tempore said UConn should not try to isolate itself from statewide financial troubles.

Several state legislators praised the move to partially undo the raises.

“This is a reasonable resolution to what I have said from the beginning was a surprising and untenable position for the university to take, considering the fiscal austerity that we in the legislature have undertaken in the past year and the message—intended or not—that these huge bonuses send to a public who are enduring statewide program and service cuts,” Sen. Bartolomeo said in a Friday press release.

These controversial raises had been scheduled in 2013 and 2014. Herbst wrote in her letter that no similar promises have been made to managers at the university since and no more will be made in the future.


Chris McDermott is the news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.mcdermott@uconn.edu.