URBANA -- More than 470 employees at the University of Illinois' campus in Urbana-Champaign earn $150,000 or more annually, according to an analysis that shows salaries are edging higher after several years of hiring freezes, furloughs, retirements and budget woes.
While 472 employees earn $150,000-plus, that number is down from 2008 when 528 employee salaries topped $150,000, according to The (Champaign) News-Gazette. The News-Gazette found that 155 employees are earning more than $200,000 this year, compared to 218 earning that much in 2008.
"Part of what you're seeing is older faculty or more experienced faculty retiring and now you have younger faculty, assistant faculty at a lower market rate. And you might be seeing a little bit of the efforts of administrative review and consolidating as well," said Randy Kangas, the university's associate vice president for planning and budgeting.
Of those earning $150,000 or better, 22 are employed in the university's Division of Intercollegiate Athletics and 11 are on the football staff, the News-Gazette reported. Division spokesman Kent Brown said those salaries are "comparable and competitive with most schools around the country."
Other high earners include vice presidents, associate chancellors, college deans and research institute heads. Leaders of highly ranked programs, such as accountancy, also appear on the list.
When there's strong demand, salaries reflect that, Kangas said.
"At a national university like our campus, there is stiff competition for faculty, and there's competition for presidents and top administrators. As far as I can tell, the market for top faculty has remained strong," he said.
But not everyone is pleased with all of the high salaries, including Ricky Baldwin of the Service Employees Union, which represents some of the lowest-paid employees at the university -- the food service and building service workers.
"We certainly don't begrudge professors who are Nobel Prize winners," Baldwin said. "The concern is when you see some of these administrators making such huge amounts ... and our folks are just trying to keep up."
The union is currently bargaining with the university for a new contract and asking for wage increases to make up for lost ground in 2010 and 2011.