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[UPDATE] Scott Releases State University System Salary Data

By: Lilly Rockwell, The News Service of Florida; Lanetra Bennett Email
By: Lilly Rockwell, The News Service of Florida; Lanetra Bennett Email

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, October 19, 2011 -

Amidst a push to reform higher education, Gov. Rick Scott has posted the salaries of all state university employees online, prompting pushback from faculty.

The salary information for all 11 state universities was already publicly available, but Scott's office last week took the extra step of compiling the information, putting it into a searchable spreadsheet and posting it online on the "Florida Has a Right to Know" website.

Governor Rick Scott's Office releases a spreadsheet showing the salary data for State University System employees.The spreadsheet can be found above.

The website allows Florida faculty and administrators, and anyone else, to easily glimpse the salaries of their colleagues, supervisors and rival academics for the first time.

Salaries of professors vary widely, from the $30,000 a year made by an English instructor at the University of Central Florida to $1.2 million paid to a medical professor at the University of South Florida. The highest professor salaries came primarily from medical school professors at the University of Florida and USF.

The effort to publish university salaries comes during a time that Scott has pressed for changes in higher education, touting an effort in Texas to scrutinize faculty productivity and tenure. This has made some faculty nervous that Scott is publishing salaries as part of a maneuver to galvanize public opinion against university faculty in a push to tie pay to performance, or change other benefits such as tenure.

Scott has also posted the salary information of state employees and information on public employees who receive state pensions worth more than $100,000 a year on the same website.

"Just as salary information for all the Office of the Governor workers and the state agencies are posted online, Florida has right to know about university salaries as well because they are paid for by taxpayer dollars," said Scott spokesman Lane Wright.

But faculty say salaries are not always paid for with state taxpayer dollars.

"My reaction is not a privacy concern, this is public knowledge anyway," said Tom Auxter, a philosophy professor at the University of Florida and the president of the United Faculty of Florida. "But when the governor just publishes this, it makes it look like it is something other than it is."

For example, some professors have part of their salary paid for through endowments or grants, not state funds.

"They are not necessarily all state dollars and it is somewhat misleading as to how the categories are arranged," said University of Florida spokeswoman Janine Sikes.

For instance, the highest-paid professor in the university system is Dr. Neil Fenske, a renowned dermatologist and professor who is paid $1.2 million. But a USF spokeswoman said his salary is mostly paid for through clinic fees from patients. A USF statement said Fenske is considered "one of the nation's leading cancer specialists in melanoma."

Faculty are also concerned the online database will draw attention to the six-figure salaries paid to a few superstar professors and administrators, versus the more typical five-figure salary of an assistant or associate professor.

The database also doesn't include some forms of compensation. Figures posted for university presidents, for example, list just their base salaries and not bonuses. For instance, University of Central Florida President John Hitt made $673,500 in the 2009-10 fiscal year, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The salary database shows his salary was $463,500.

Auxter, the UFF president, said Scott is motivated to cut costs at universities. Toward that end, Auxter said the governor has chosen to "vilify" faculty rather than find new revenue sources.

"(Scott) has boxed himself into a strategy where he has to be constantly claiming to expose government waste," Auxter said. He said professors, on average, make less in Florida than in most other states.

Florida universities are already struggling to keep talented professors in the state, Auxter said, a by-product of tough budget years in which universities have seen funding cut from the state.

"You can't pay the talent you want to keep and the talent you want to attract," Auxter said.

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UPDATE 10-17-2011

by Lanetra Bennett

Tallahassee, FL - Many state employees have a new reason to be upset with Governor Rick Scott.

A website from his office is causing controversy ... again.

The website that Governor Rick Scott launched earlier this year, where anyone can find out how much money a state employee makes ... has now added employees of the state university system to the list.

"I'm getting cheated out of my money."
These workers at Florida State University can't believe their eyes...
A spreadsheet...
From the university president to the parking guys and groundkeepers... their salaries are all listed.

Ronnie Walker, FSU Parking and Transportation Department, says, "It's not good because anybody can just go on there. Somebody can go on there and get your personal information. If they can get that, they can see anything about you."

The payroll information of employees of Florida's 11 state universities are posted on the website, "Florida Has a Right to Know."

Wesley Tucker, FSU Parking and Transportation Department , says,
"No one should know that unless you tell them. But, I don't think anyone should be able to just go on there and just find out your information like that."

Governor Rick Scott launched the website in March... allowing anyone to search payroll and contract information on state employees.

The university system was not included ... But, now it is.

"I want to see what the governor making."

Manuel Dafretas, FSU Student, says, "I think it's disrespectful. At the same time, I feel like students might be able to go online and check this information and if a teacher gets paid less than another, they might disrespect that teacher."

Decarius Wright, FSU Parking and Transportation Department, says
"Look at how much you're making, then they can go around and talk about it. The situation, I don't think, is real great for me."

Governor Scott says taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent. He says posting this information helps keep government accountable.

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Tallahassee, Florida - October 17, 2011

Governor Rick Scott's Office releases a spreadsheet showing the salary data for State University System employees. The spreadsheet can be found above.

On March 17, 2011, Governor Rick Scott launched a website called http://www.floridahasarighttoknow.com/ . The site provided public access to a state employee salary database. Governor Scott's office has now released the salary data for state university employees. The data was "just released in the last couple of days" according to Governor Scott's Office.

Stay with WCTV for reactions on this new release from the governor's office.


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