comscore UH president’s pay in mid-range among college leaders, study finds
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UH president’s pay in mid-range among college leaders, study finds

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  • JAMM AQUINO / MAY 2015

    University of Hawaii president David Lassner walks through Bachman Hall at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

University of Hawaii President David Lassner’s salary ranks in the bottom two-thirds of salaries paid to the nation’s public college presidents, according to a report released today by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Lassner’s $375,000 base salary is No. 152 out of 260 leaders of public colleges and university systems. His salary is in the 41st percentile, meaning roughly 60 percent of public college chiefs earned more than he did last year.

The salary report includes chief executives at 236 public universities and covers presidents whose tenures began or ended during the 2015 fiscal year, including interim appointments. The Chronicle said the report includes all public doctoral universities and all state college and university systems or governing boards with at least three campuses and 50,000 students.

The median total compensation of a public-college president who served a full year was $431,000 — up by 4.3 percent over the previous year. Full-year base salaries ranged from a high of $800,000 for the president of Ohio State University, which enrolls more than 65,000 students across five campuses, to a low of $164,238 for the chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, now known as the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

Lassner had been the University of Hawaii’s longtime information technology chief before being tapped to lead the 10-campus UH system, which has 60,000 students, 10,000 faculty and staff members, and $1.53 billion in annual operating expenses.

His salary is tied with two others on the list: the president of the University of Louisiana system, which enrolls more than 88,000 students, and president of the University of Southern Mississippi, which has 14,500 students.

By comparison, Lassner’s predecessor, M.R.C. Greenwood, received a $475,000 salary at her hiring in 2009. Former UH-Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple, who was hired in 2012, was paid $439,008.

In last year’s salary report, Lassner’s salary was listed as “partial-year compensation” at $270,840, which reflected 10 months of pay at the $325,008 salary the Board of Regents had approved for him when he was named interim president in July 2013. The prorated salary ranked him No. 187 out of 277 executives last year.

Lassner served as interim president for nearly a year until he emerged as the leading candidate for the permanent position. The regents appointed him president effective July 1, 2014, and increased his salary to $375,000. The board at the time said Lassner’s appointment would be “continuous” and subject to annual performance evaluations with objectives set by the board.

He received a positive performance evaluation from the regents last summer on his first one-year performance evaluation but requested no salary increase.

The regents have yet to complete an evaluation for the past year.

“Only the Board of Regents as whole can decide on a raise, after an assessment, which will not occur until at least August,” according to UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl, who said regents Chairman Randy Moore was traveling and unavailable for comment.

Lassner, who also was traveling, said in a statement that “it’s an incredible honor to lead our remarkable University of Hawaii system in this time of great change for public higher education across the country.”

“For me,” he added, “it’s not at all about compensation but the opportunity to give back to the institution that has done so much for me and is absolutely critical to the future of our entire state. I look forward to helping the entire UH system achieve even greater heights over the years to come.”

Unlike past UH presidents, Lassner, who holds a doctorate in communication and information sciences, said upon hiring that he would not seek a tenured faculty position to fall back on. He also declined to move into the university’s College Hill residence in Manoa and did not seek a housing allowance that past presidents were given as part of their benefits packages.

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  • His current performance evluation has to see what he has done about the Manoa VC, He needs to be removed for gross moral turpitude, A VC cannot set the example, the guy at Manoa has set, of sleeping w. a faculty member ‘s wife, dumping wife and mother in law at their most difficult times. Marrying a mistress as a cover up does not make it right, A president should have the moral strength to remove such an individual, Besides, doesn’t Lassner have any loyalty to his dissertation supervisor? Maybe that ties his hands, but there is more thn sufficient grounds to remove the VC!

  • If he wants a bigger pay check he needs to start doing his job in making UH Manoa more efficient with the money they do have. No more contract debacles, no more paid sabbaticals for anyone, complete audit of UH to clear out the deadwood staffing, out of date computer systems, wasted energy, on and on.

    If he can honestly show, and verified by an audit, he has lowered the operational and tuition cost at UH for say 10% or more and has a path to keep it going lower, and most of all, UH is high ranking on the US News & World Reports College/University survey, he can have more money.

    Can’t do this, lucky to get the pay he has now. No raise or bonus until he starts producing. Can’t meet the standard, fire them and find someone who can.

    • True. He is a mediocre figure but he looks decent compared to his predecessors, some of whom were not even honest. He is just OK. His salary is very good for his level of performance.

  • What is the point of this article? Has Lassner done such a great job at UH that he deserves a raise? He, Hinshaw and the med school dean defended UH Cancer center director Carbone and fired Apple as chancellor even though massive evidence of wrongdoing by Cabone was established. Now Carbone has been removed as director but probably still commands the same salary and the UH cancer center is bankrupt because of mismanagement and the state legislature refused to bail out the cancer center by giving UH even more money. UH Manoa has like a billion dollars in backlog for repairs because Lassner wants to fund new projects to expand UH yet they cannot maintain what they have at Manoa, the supposed ‘flagship’ of the university. A UH grad student got her arm blown off because of what appears due to negligence in following proper safety procedures. How could that lab pass inspection if the electronic pressure gauge on flammable gases was a clear violation of safety rules? Also the grad student is on record of bringing attention to the sparking gauge beforehand stating she saw sparks and the lab manager told her to ignore those sparks as no big deal. What about the Chow fiasco of Lassner backing up BJ to keep Chow for 3 full seasons even though he was failing from season 1 and it only went from bad to worse? This list goes on. Lasner is ultimately responsible for ALL of this and this SA story talks about Lasner having ‘low pay’ compared to other universities? Get real…which is why Hawaii is messed up with a train to nowhere, a 5th rate public education system , one of the worst homeless problems and the highest inflation rate in the nation when the only newspaper in town ignores reality and instead is a cheerleader to the highest bidders with moohlah

    • PS : Forgot to mention when Lasner was the Chief information officer at UH, they had lost millions of Hawaii taxpayer dollars on a failed, computer system. The loss was huge and probably there were more than one system wide failed IT project at UH. Someone else can confirm this with more details.

    • I think the “low pay” assertion is an indictment of the greed of upper management pay scale in general. The country club entitlement mentality is prevalent throughout all fields and industries in the US. While middle America remains stagnant or loses ground and the lower class swells larger, the upper crust lounges in luxury and gorges themselves full. And it gets worse every year with the disparity between the top and the rest getting wider by the minute. And please, don’t give me no bull about one political party being better than the other, both are indebted to big money and neither party will make much of a difference in stopping the growing wealth concentration in the top 1%.

  • How can we see a list of the all of the top salaries being paid at the UH? Including their athletic coaches since they are faculty members.

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