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Posted on Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

University of Michigan provost says large salary increases for deans were warranted

By Kellie Woodhouse

University of Michigan Provost Philip Hanlon defended dean raises before faculty members Monday afternoon, saying that deans earned rates necessary to keep university salaries competitive with those offered at other top-tier institutions.


College of Engineering Dean David Munson received a near-29 percent raise this year.

Photo courtesy of U-M.

U-M's 21 deans are earning more than $6.92 million in base pay this year, according to university figures released last month. That's up from $6.57 million last year.

Merit raises for deans averaged 3 percent, Hanlon said; however four deans positions received increases well over that amount.

Two dean positions received six-figure increases.

Alison Davis-Blake, the new dean of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, receives a $550,000 salary, or $102,000 more than her predecessor Robert Dolan. College of Engineering Dean David Munson's salary saw a near-29 percent increase this year. His salary is $470,195, up from $365,164 last year.

Hanlon, who is in charge of setting and raising deans' salaries, said the increases were merited for two separate reasons.

When Davis-Blake was hired, Hanlon said he reviewed the salaries of comparative schools, including the top five business programs at public universities before setting Davis-Blake's rate.

"When we hire a new dean we do a market survey of deans in peer insitutions and that’s probably the biggest single piece of data that I use in setting the salary initially," Hanlon said during a Monday afternoon meeting before the Faculty Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs.

Hanlon said the university raised Munson's salary substantially in order to persuade him to remain at U-M.

"A dean ... was contemplating a provost position at a peer institution and we wanted to retain that dean," said Hanlon, who did not mention Munson by name. Munson, who received a $105,000 salary increase, is the only dean to have received a salary hike large enough to qualify.

Two other deans received 10 percent increases in addition to their merit increases. Those increases, Hanlon said, are due to a long-standing university practice of awarding deans a 10 percent increase after five years in the position.


U-M Provost Philip Hanlon sets dean salaries.

For Paul Courant, the dean of libraries, that practice meant a 13.3 percent, or $47,000, raise. He now makes $398,102. School of Nursing Dean Kathleen M. Potempa received a 12.2 percent increase, which brought her earnings up $40,400 to $371,026.

"The historic practice is that if a dean is reappointed for a second term... they get a 10 percent increase in salary," Hanlon said.

If a dean is reappointed to a third term, they receive another ten percent hike. Deans are awarded five-year increases in addition to their yearly merit increases.

Hanlon said the practice imitates the same pay hike a faculty member would receive when promoted from assistant professor to associate professor or associate professor to professor after five years.

"It's like a promotion," Hanlon explained.

Alison davis-blake.jpg

Alison Davis-Blake is the highest paid dean at U-M.

SACUA member and Otorhinolaryngology professor Charles Koopmann expressed concern with the 10 percent raise.

"It's not a promotion, it’s a reappointment," he said. "They're getting potentially a significant amount more, percentage wise, than their faculty."

Hanlon said that deans, unlike some administrators and faculty, do not receive deferred compensation.

This year Robert Dolan, the former business school dean, continued to collect the $448,155 salary he received during his deanship.

Hanlon said that's because Dolan is using a year's worth of administrative leave, a type of leave similar to sabbatical, that he earned during his time as dean.

"Deans do accumulate, typically, a year of administrative leave," Hanlon said in an interview with

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 2:03 a.m.

It is disgusting that the dean of libraries at a public institution is in the 1%. The support staff earns $25-40,000. The place is so top heavy it's about to tip over. The workers are the ones who make the place run smoothly. If there is a place in the private sector where he could earn that much, he should go there. But then he might actually have to earn his money.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 3:17 a.m.

The salaries of upper level management at the UM are truly obscene. The increases awarded to the two deans are very sad examples of this. I was intending to leave a not unsubstantial donation in my will to my alma mater, the UM, but am changing that plan and leaving a like amount to SOS Community Services. It will do more good there and certainly be appreciated more. I will not be party to feathering the next of fat cats in these hard economic times. Its time for the "Leaders and Best" to take a pay cut and get the with times.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 11:57 p.m.

So the main reason for U.M.'s salary increases are salary increases at 'peer institutions'. It's thievery at the 'peer institutions', and it's thievery here. Sorry boys.

Dog Guy

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 10:14 p.m.

Provost Hanlon was quite dignified in gloating and rubbing it in to the tax slaves. So many taxpayers can still afford heat, food, cable, internet, and newer cars that it takes excessive compensation to be definitively on top. Nowadays, most of the pleasure of being on top is that other people are down. The whining complaints here are as music to the ears of overpaid tax consumers. So thank you for complaining. Tomorrow I may go shopping with your taxes for a new Lexus.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 9:19 p.m.

What do you expect him say? If he told the truth he would have to admit the U of M administration has no respect for the voters and that they are going to do what they darn well please. He would probably add a comment saying, 'we're educators, you're not, do what you're told'. Arrogance at U of M is nothing new.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

Sorry, but like private industry, people justifying these high salaries are blowing a lot of smoke at you to make it sound reasonable. The ultimate question should be CAN SOMEONE ELSE DO THE JOB FOR LESS MONEY, WELL ENOUGH TO KEEP THE SCHOOL COMPETITIVE? The answer to that has to be yes. Many executives in private industry make the same arguments as to their stunning business acumen and that it really and truly brings the value to the company enough to offset their monstrous salaries. Except that is does not. No one can quantify how it does, least of all them - or in this case the deans. This is AT THE CORE of the lack of class mobility - the upper levels are paid at such outrageous levels that they must self perpetuate or the entire system of creating Robber Baron's collapses. It is also part of unreasonable tuition increases which outpace inflation so much. This is not value for Michigan students or The State of Michigan. The emperor is naked - they should all be let go and replaced with more reasonable salaried Deans. I do not think there would be any trouble finding well qualified and eager candidates who would view the salary at half as acceptable and a great chance to make their bones at such a University. Next election, vote out every Regent - vote in all new ones, regardless of party.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

While I certainly don't agree with these types of pay hikes, it doesn't surprise me. UM is notorious for being behind other top tier institutions in many disciplines. But it does warm the cockles of my heart to know that there are so many in Ann Arbor who are planning to refuse their next salary increase for their part in the shared sacrifice, LOL.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 11:07 p.m.

Good point. I guess if UM wants to be the Harvard of the Midwest, they need to go private.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 8:22 p.m.

The majority of the "top-tier" institutions UM is so desperate to keep up with are private schools, not publicly funded. I don't have any problem at all with a private university paying its people whatever it wants. If the millions of state dollars UM syphons off the state's budget aren't adequate and are cramping their style, I sincerely hope and pray they go private. Any minute now....


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 7:21 p.m.

Maybe if we keep these 1%ers inside the gilded walls of academia they won't be able to get back to Wall Street and do some real damage?


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 8:37 p.m.

Toss them out and let them compete with the rest of the sharks


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.

Funny how when it is the peons, excuse me the workers, it is constantly stated that there is not enough for any meaningful raises. However seems there is always plenty of money for raises and bonuses at the top. Talking from both sides of their faces as it is convienent.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 6:59 p.m.

Forever27, your argument that the money UM is paying these deans is peanuts compared to "what they could be making" in the private sector is laughable. The Dean of Libraries is going to make $398,102 in the private sector...where, exactly? Doing what? Where else, other than a major university, is the dean of the nursing school going to go to earn $371K per year with automatic, longevity-based salary increases? Trying to justify tax-payer funded salaries of this ridiculous level with lame moral relativity -- "Other people make way more, so every body chill out" -- is weak and pointless. It's like trying to argue that a broken arm doesn't need treatment because it's not two broken arms. No person who's salary is paid with tax dollars should be receiving raises like this. Period. Especially in a state that's can't fund basic services. Trying to paint people who are against raging arrogance and waste as anti-education is pathetic.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 7 p.m.

Make that "whose salary," not "who's salary"...

Jon Saalberg

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 5:31 p.m.

I also would appreciate a comment from Mr. Hanlon, irrespective of the claim that the individuals in question "must" be paid this much, as to how these jobs are more taxing than being President, which pays a "mere" $400,000 a year. Additionally this statement - ""The historic practice is that if a dean is reappointed for a second term... they get a 10 percent increase in salary," Hanlon said." - seems like a seriously flawed way of paying people. So the model is, if someone is appointed, whether outstanding in their position or merely adequate, if they get another term, they receive 10% more money? Really? I wonder how many of the other thousands of U employees receive such generous largesse for doing their job for another year. Any? More likely, hardly any.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

The fact that they are defending their decision is proof they know it's not right! Any decent person making that kinda money should say enough or I can't justify taking a 29% raise while the staff is working underpaid and without a decent raise in over 5 yrs that I've been here! I would be embarrassed to walk around my staff knowing that the raises they are getting are pathetic!


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.

Not surprising, but totally ridiculous, that he tries to match the B School Dean's salary with the "comparable" ones, but that "comparable matching" doesn't get done for the B School faculty or staff. Last I heard their average raise last year was just 2%. One overpaid administrator looking out for another.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 5:57 p.m.

What's the increase for this year though ??????

hut hut

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 3:49 p.m.

Anyone who defends this kind of remuneration for those at the top while they cut wages of those at the bottom, public and private, is a defender of the status quo. A status quo that further divides this nation into the haves and the have nots.

hut hut

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

Where's the shared sacrifice that we're all talking about? The shared sacrifice that those at the top are telling "us" that "we" have to make? Does it only apply to those at the bottom of the economic ladder?


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

Why limit the raises to staying with the status quo. Why not overpay them and set the bar higher? Only need to charge more for tuition to ensure that the UofM stays at the top of the elite.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

does this mean staff [the real people doing the work] will be receiving at least 3% increase? other wise i'm leaving!


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 5:56 p.m.

Just like the posters here saying let the Deans leave because others can replace them, you can also be replaced by others being paid at market price. Adios.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.

No, we won't!


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

He is a 1% Provost...why wouldn't he defend: like the fox watching the chicken house? Like Gingrich defending multiple marriages? How can a half-million-dollar salary be defended...another tuition increase and/or begging for increased state aid next?


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

All this outrage over corrections to pay for FOUR people? Three percent increases for the others is not out of the range of reasonable, and is is what many organizations are providing this year - in fact the average is higher. Corrections on the other four are exactly that. Market based adjustments. In the scheme of things it's four people. Do you not have other things to scream about?

hut hut

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 3:34 p.m.

Please continue to defend the status quo. You're on the wrong side of this issue.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.

hut hut, you completely ignore the fact that the level of pay between the two areas is not even close. The excuse that "they're worth it" holds far less water when "worth it" means 200,00 million dollars than when it is a dean making six figures in academia when they could be making millions in the private industry.

hut hut

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

You're missing the point. Pay raises like this are becoming the SOP for execs. Whether they perform or not. The point is not so much what they are getting paid, it's the same tired mantra used by Wall St execs. "We're worth it" . "Everybody else is getting it". You must pay us this much to stay competitive? How many time have we heard this? Originally it began on Wall St and has now migrated down to public administrators and execs like the deans. And they do this while asking for sacrifice from those at the bottom and raising tuition for their customers?!


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

thank you for a logical reading of this article. People just like to get upset about education administrators making anything above minimum wage. The undervaluing of education (and the administrators that are required to run the system) frightens me.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

If they are here just for the money, let them leave to a higher paying job at another institution.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.

Another sound business decision. Run the university like a corporation. Overpay the administrators. Increase their numbers. Marginalize and minimize the faculty. Keep tuition high. The University is for the rich. It is dangerous to educate the poor and shrinking middle classes. They might decide its time to shake of their shackles.

Hot Sam

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.

Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Med,Big Banking, Big Gov, and Big Ed... Any one see a pattern here?

Hot Sam

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

Forever actually misses a number of points here. The pattern I am referring to is when when an entity, becomes enabled by the one that dwarfs them all, Big Gov. They become "too big to fail" and cease to be accountable to the people and immune to any market forces. With regard o the salary discrepancy, one must consider that there are a small handful of "oil execs", and there are thousands of higher ed administrators. It's about big money, and when your talking big money, your talking "Big Ed"

Hot Sam

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

hut hut and I don't always agree, but the response here is darn close:-)

hut hut

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 3:49 p.m.

Forver27 continues to defend the stats quo. It's not about how much it's about the blackmail. It's about buying into the greed machine because "everybody else is getting this much, so should I". It's about those aqt the top defending others at the top. Brady Hoke gets $3m million in his contract AND a $125,000 bonus for winning one game! It's not about putting things in perspective, it's about a lack of perspective and seeing the bigger picture. Anyone who defends this kind of remuneration for those at the top while they cut wages of those at the bottom, public and private is a defender of the status quo. A status quo that further divides this nation into the haves and the have nots.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

the salaries of the people you lumped together are nowhere near the same ballpark. I'm with you on the fact that oil execs, pharma execs and med execs are all overpaid and hold the society hostage with their services. But, to lump "Big Ed" in the same category belies your misunderstanding about the services from each group. The money involved with education pales in comparison to billions that oil and pharma bring in. It's beyond hyperbole to compare them.

Hot Sam

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

Enlighten me


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

your misunderstanding of the word "big"

Bertha Venation

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

Yep. He gets paid handsomely to say that.... of course he would. While the rest of us low-level saps at the U get butkis. Oh well, you know what they say.... "stuff" flows downhill.

hut hut

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

Time for a graduated local income tax. .0% for working people. 100% for the deans, regents, AAPS administrators.

hut hut

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

Then let's take about all of it, public, private, instead of defending the status quo that fits your world view or pays only those who you like. In the broader perspective, what's the diff? Public admins took this one right out of the Wall St playbook.

hut hut

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

I'm angry that public administrators have adopted the private sector Wall St mantra: You must pay us to stay competitive. We're worth it. The private sector pays better and we'll walk if we don't get it. It's little more than blackmail. Teachers, janitors, cafeteria workers, maintenance workers are worth every penny they get paid. Administrators are grossly overpaid for what they do and get more at every turn. And they do this with a straight face while they advocate lower wages for those at the bottom.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

AAPS administrators? are you just mad that anyone in education makes more than minimum wage? If you're really that upset about inequity in income in this country (which i can agree with), lets focus on the people making millions after government bailouts, not public school employees who could be making far more in the private sector, but choose not to because they actually want to help society.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

Oh, really, Provost Hanlon? Really?


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

it would be interesting to find out the "peer institutions", are they located where we think they are and the cost of living is substantially higher? The percentage hike in these packages is absurd with what is going on in Michigan. A generous hike would still be quite a bit less than these amounts. If the incentive has to be"throw large amounts of money to get 'em to stay", what is the point? There are hundreds of talented people....maybe it is better to allow the natural movement of people in and out of these positions. A University should have an organic way of growing and developing....the ultra hype on the sports marketing and influx of wealthy foreign students and now this tells us corporate rule and management is at play here...not a good day for higher education in America.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

This is obscene. A 6-figure raise to elevate a salary to over a half-million dollars, while you have hard-working staff making less than 30K a year, receiving a 3% raise. Shame on you for trying to justify that, Phil.

hut hut

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

Vote fore new regents? You have to be kidding. I bet they'd take the money and make the same lousy excuse, "We're worth it and you need to pay us these outrageous amounts to stay competitive!". All at the same time, in unsion with the other overpaid administrators, execs, bankers, CEO's and the like. They're all in the same boat while we're swimming in the cold dark waters.

hut hut

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

This continuous, in good times and bad, massive transfer of wealth to the top, the ultra rich, the 1% must stop. It's unethical, amoral and just plain wrong. In fact it's stealing from the working and giving to the paper shufflers and order givers. When college grads can't find work or families have to live on barista wages or live in their car, something is seriously wrong with our economic system. This is outrageous. The public sector has adopted the salary scale of Wall Street. Hah! Let them eat cake!


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

I would propose that these are not true public sector jobs and align more with corporation executive type positions . . . except with more isolation from oversight. Don't forget the one year of administrative leave, which I assume is paid at nearly $500K. One questions, when the other institutions were looked at for salary comparision was collusion involved? That is, did they coordinate the escilation of salaries between pier institutions? If you raise yours then we will raise ours and so on. Seem like a simple process, require little direct communication or planning.

hut hut

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

And that's exactly what I meant. Wall street execs , CEOs public administrators and the like are all for raising their salaries while cutting those who actually do the work, like teachers and front line public employees.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

Ummmmmm, the vast majority of those working in the public sector do not have Wall Street salaries.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

Hanlon looks at the average salary of deans at other top tier institutions. I wonder if he looks at whether that "average" includes the same type of 10% increases for second appointments, or are those inflated salaries used to decide on compensation for new deans here. It seems like this method could create a never-ending spiral upwards.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 12:57 p.m.

"deans earned rates necessary to keep university salaries competitive with those offered at other top-tier institutions." Man, that line never grows old -

hut hut

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

Public institutions and those who run them learned this from Wall Street and the private sector. There is no difference between public and private anymore. it's all a scam to rob working people.

Buster W.

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.

No, it doesn't grow old. All institutions say the same thing.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

This all has to be approved in the budget by the Regents. Its about time they showed some leadership in controlling the rapidly increasing costs of administration, both salary increases and new positions for administrators. The Regents all talk about controlling increasing tuition but they don't actually do anything about the budget. VOTE FOR NEW REGENTS


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

UM Dean to underpaid staff: "Oh, we don't have any money for decent raises, unless it's for me and my high paid buddies. By the way, cut back on expenitures, cause we're going broke, unless I want to spend money on what I want to do." It's as if Wall Street opened up an branch in Fleming.

Jon Saalberg

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

Of course he says that - he makes $460,000 a year. I would appreciate Hanlon explaining how anyone deserves a 29% pay increase when the U regularly justifies above-inflation tuition increases by saying those increases cover "rising costs" - I guess a "mere" $7M or so is a drop in the bucket for the U, thus justifying these amazing pay packages. And this - "University of Michigan Provost Philip Hanlon defended dean raises before faculty members this afternoon, saying that deans earned rates necessary to keep university salaries competitive with those offered at other top-tier institutions." - is the kind of mindset that keeps the absurdity rolling right along.

hut hut

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 3 p.m.

@Forever27. It sounds like your bucking for a dean's job. They're all overpaid, including those in the private sector. In fact this is the merry go round for overpaid admins, deans, CEO's and Wall st execs. How many private execs move into the public sector and vise versa? And how many of them repeat the mantra that they're worth it... to stay competitive and look at what everyone else is getting so I deserve it too. Let the deans go to the private sector. Pay wise they're already there.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

look at the highest paid dean (school of business) at $550,000. This is peanuts compared to what they could be earning in the private sector. I'd say that we are getting a heck of a deal for this level of talent.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 11:59 a.m.

Typical of the arrogance that surrounds most of the u of M decisions when it comes to upper level management salaries. "Hanlon said the university raised Munson's salary substantially in order to persuade him to remain at U-M." Let him go! No one is irreplaceable. Call his bluff. There's always someone out there who can do the job just as well as the person you think is invaluable.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 11:39 a.m.

Yes. Keep paying them more and more while the rest of society struggles. All the U of M has to do is pass the cost onto those that wish to go to college. Where is occupy Ann Arbor er Wall Street er ???? on this matter?


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.

We are to small for wall street, they would rather start their fight higher and work there way down, eventually us "lil" people will get our chance,,, right? At this rate, I'll be dead and my kids will be orphans...

hut hut

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

And Goober where are you? In the streets or do you leave that up to other people?


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

they're occupying Wall Street, where the salaries at issue are in the millions...a far cry from what we're talking about here. Lets keep this in perspective shall we?