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Regents should pay president of U of I more, Vilsack says

Thomas Beaumont

Des Moines Register

January 4, 2007

[Note: This material is copyright by the Des Moines Register, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Des Moines Register.]

Gov. Tom Vilsack said Wednesday the Iowa Board of Regents should raise the salary range for the University of Iowa president to attract top-flight applicants.

"We had no problem paying for a basketball coach and a football coach," Vilsack told Des Moines Register editors and reporters. "We ought not to have a problem, for sure, paying for a great president."

Vilsack said he expected the regents to raise the salary to be more competitive with prestigious universities in other states. "I think that's going to happen," Vilsack said. "I'm saying that should happen. It should absolutely happen."

The university community in Iowa City has been in upheaval since November, when the regents turned away four finalists to succeed Dr. David Skorton.

The move upset faculty, students and staff, who passed resolutions of no confidence in the regents.

Last month, the regents selected David Johnsen, dean of the U of I College of Dentistry, to lead the presidential search committee.

Vilsack said he expected Johnsen, the university's longest-serving dean, to "begin the process of calming the waters."

Skorton earned $350,000 last year, the least among Big Ten universities for president's compensation, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Skorton resigned last summer to become president of Cornell University in Ithica, N.Y., where he is earning $675,000 annually.

Hawkeye head football coach Kirk Ferentz signed an extension earlier this year that increased his compensation to $2.7 million, the third-most for any major college coach.

Head basketball coach Steve Alford signed a five-year agreement in 1998 that paid him a base salary of $325,000, but includes incentives that brought his total compensation last year to roughly $1 million.

Reporter Thomas Beaumont can be reached at (515) 286-2532 or

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