$408,000 salary for new UA provost
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Colleges and universities across the country are slashing their budgets.
So we found it a little concerning when we saw the number of zeros in one newly appointed U of A leader's salary.
The University of Arizona is a big, complex operation. It has about 38 thousand students and with more than ten thousand employees it's the biggest employer in Pima County.
Now Doctor Andrew Comrie will be the permanent provost, basically the chief operating officer. As interim he made about $300,000. Winning the permanent job boosts him to $408,000.
What do students think of those numbers? UA Junior Andrew Byrne says, "That's a lot of money and I mean, me, as an out of state student, I'm paying upwards of $65,000 a year to go here and to think that this dude's making $400,000, like my tuition should not be as expensive as it is."
Doctor Comrie's predecessor made about 400 thousand dollars, when you combine a 350 thousand dollar base with another 50 thousand earmarked as a research stipend.
So KGUN9 News asked Dr. Comrie about what he gets from U of A and what he gives it.
Reporter Craig Smith asked: The salary figure really makes people pause, and go, that's a lot of money, especially in the current budget climate. What justifies that kind of money?"
Comrie: "Well, of course, I'm not the person who hired me but my take on that is, if you look nationally this salary is actually below the national average for a large research university. Our peer group is the Association of American Universities, the 61 largest research universities in North America and this is actually below that level. So it's a competitive salary for a competitive job, of course."
He says we'll know he was a good investment if UA is a good deal for students, that delivers a good education, strong research and a strong economic jolt for Arizona.
Some students take the provost's pay philosophically; like Hector Gonzalez: "He worked for where he's at; so in relative terms of deserving it, maybe not to some people, but I mean, to him if it was me making that amount of money for like my family or whoever I needed to support, that's all that really matters is the people who I love being happy."