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Number of 6-figure salaries growing at S.C. universities

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Rick Brundrett

Nearly 1,700 administrators, professors and coaches at the University of South Carolina, Clemson University and the Medical University of South Carolina earn at least $100,000 annually – an increase of about 250 from last year in the number of six-figure salaries,The Nerve found in a review of state salary data.
The Nerve’s analysis of a salary database of employees at the state’s three research universities earning $50,000 or more, maintained by the S.C. Budget and Control Board (BCB), found that:
6,528 employees at the three universities earn at least $50,000, a collective increase of 467, or 7.7 percent, from August 2012;
1,683 employees earn $100,000 or more, an increase of 246, or 17.1 percent, from a year ago. Clemson experienced a hike of nearly 37 percent in that category;
219 employees earn at least $200,000, an increase of 31, or 16.4 percent, from last year;
The current average yearly salary of all employees in the database is $89,544, an increase of $2,390, or 2.7 percent, over last year; and
The total current payroll for $50,000-plus employees at the three universities is $585.54 million, an increase of $56.3 million, or 10.6 percent, compared to August 2012.
Three high-profile sports administrators at USC – head football coach Steve Spurrier, head women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley and Ray Tanner, the university’s athletic director – are among the top 10 highest-paid employees at the three universities, though their salaries listed in the BCB’s database don’t include other types of income, such as media compensation.
For example, Spurrier’s and Staley’s salaries are listed at $350,000 each in the database, though Spurrier’s total annual compensation under his current contract is about $3.3 million – making him one of the 10 highest-paid college football coaches in the country – while Staley will earn $850,000 this year, according to media reports.
Tanner’s listed salary in the BCB database is $525,000 – the highest among all 6,528 employees earning $50,000-plus at the three universities. His total compensation as of March was $675,000, according to media reports.
Similarly, USC President Harris Pastides has the 25th-highest listed salary in the database at $286,200, though his total compensation, including money from the school’s educational foundation, was $724,000 as of October, according to a story in The State newspaper.
Outgoing MUSC President Ray Greenberg, who will start a new position next month at the University of Texas, ranked 72nd in the database with a salary of $250,629; his total compensation as of April, excluding deferred compensation, was $755,854, according to The State.
Outgoing Clemson President James Barker, who announced in April he was stepping down as president to return to teaching, ranked 83rd in the database with a salary of $245,869, though a February story in The (Rock Hill) Herald said he had received $435,442 in 2011 from the college’s foundation and related organizations.
Following is a list of the 10 highest-paid employees in the BCB’s database:
Tanner – $525,000;
Lisa Montgomery, vice president for finance and administration, MUSC – $405,313;
Jay Moskowitz, professor, health services policy and management, USC – $402,999;
Martin Morad, professor, cell biology and anatomy, USC School of Medicine – $384,911;
James Bottum, vice provost for computing and information technology, Clemson – $366,113;
Prakash Nagarkatti, vice president for research, USC School of Medicine – $357,980;
Spurrier – $350,000;
Staley – $350,000;
G. Thomas Chandler, dean, Arnold School of Public Health, USC – $323,459; and
Brett Dalton, vice president for finance and operations, Clemson – $321,334.
Moskowitz, who is the highest-paid professor in the database, also is president and CEO of Health Sciences South Carolina, a Columbia-based nonprofit organization, which, according to federal tax records, aims to “promote the educational, research, clinical and related programs of the University of South Carolina, the Medical University of South Carolina, Clemson University, Greenville Hospital Systems, Spartanburg Regional Hospital and Palmetto Health.”
Moskowitz’s salary with the organization was $480,289 for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012, tax records show. His average work week was listed at 37.5 hours.
It’s unclear whether Moskowitz’s USC salary is in addition to or is included in his Health Sciences’ pay, and how many hours he works at USC in comparison to his position with Health Sciences. He didn’t respond to several written requests by The Nerve about his compensation and work hours.
Wes Hickman, USC’s chief spokesman, also didn’t respond to written and phone messages from The Nerve.
The state’s flagship university, based in Columbia, has 3,151 employees earning at least $50,000, an increase of 333 employees, or 11.8 percent, compared to August 2012, The Nerve’s review of the BCB’s salary database found. The number of employees in the $100,000-plus category jumped by 93, or 14.5 percent, to 733 during the same period, while the number of those earning $200,000 or more increased by 19, or 21.5 percent, to 107.
MUSC and Clemson spokespersons offered various reasons for the increase in the number of higher-paid employees at their respective universities, citing, among other things, a 3 percent across-the-board raise given to state employees last year by the S.C. Legislature.
“Those employees who were within the 3 percent range of the $100K and $200K thresholds would have moved into the higher categories when those COLAs were awarded,” MUSC spokeswoman Heather Woolwine said in a written response. “Additionally, we see a number of employees annually promoted into higher level positions where appropriate pay increases are awarded for the performance of higher level duties.”
“New employees are hired from outside the organization to fill vacancies that annually occur,” Woolwine continued, “and the market may demand we pay starting salaries to those new individuals above the $100K or $200K thresholds depending on the positions.”
The Charleston university has 66 employees in the $200,000-plus range, an increase of eight, or 13.7 percent, from a year ago, according to The Nerve’s review of the BCB database. The number of those in the $100,000-plus category increased by seven, or 1.7 percent, to 408 this year, though the total number of employees earning at least $50,000 decreased by 41, or 2.8 percent, to 1,398, records show.
At Clemson, the number of employees earning at least $50,000 increased over the past year by 175, or 9.7 percent, to 1,979. The number of those earning $100,000 or more jumped by 146, or 36.8 percent, to 542, while the number of employees in the $200,000-plus category increased by four, or 9.5 percent, to 46, The Nerve’s  review found.
Contacted initially, Cathy Sams, spokeswoman at the university in Pickens County, referred The Nerve to university salary studies on its website. She issued a written statement after The Nerve pointed out that the most recent study on the website was from last year and wouldn’t apply to this year’s salaries.
“There are many possible reasons for changes in salary reports from one year to the next, but not necessarily because positions have been added,” Sams said. “Salary adjustments may reflect performance-based raises, but they may also be made for promotions, a change in assignment from nine- to 12-month appointments, reclassifications or additional duties.”
“One of the priorities of Clemson’s strategic plan is to recruit and retain talented faculty and staff, and competitive competition is part of the strategy,” she added.

Rick Brundrett writes for
TheNerve.org. Contact him
at (803) 254-4411
or  rick@thenerve.org.