Take the money: Pitt chancellor is persuaded to take a pay raise

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How would you like a boss who told you that you needed a raise? "Oh no," you might say, "I didn't take one last year because I want to set a good example in these tough times." "Go on," the boss would say, "take the raise, I insist." "Very well," you might say, "you have convinced me."

University of Chancellor Mark Nordenberg apparently has such a boss in the form of the school's compensation committee and its board of trustees. According to board Chairman Stephen Tritch, Mr. Nordenberg had to be convinced to take a raise in his salary, which was frozen last year at his own request.

As a result, the chancellor will receive $18,500 more in his pay, taking it up to $580,000 for the fiscal year 2012-13. It was part of increases granted Tuesday to seven officials at the university, ranging from the chancellor's 3.3 percent up to 15 percent. The trustees believe that Pitt has had a good year, despite challenges including the bomb threats that made the campus fearful in the spring. Mr. Nordenberg and six other officials deserve thanks.

But saying "well done" is one thing and awarding salary increases is another, especially at a state-related school, which is supported in part by tax dollars.

In July, an executive committee of the trustees increased tuition at Pitt's five campuses. Tuition rose at the main campus in Oakland by 3 percent for both in- and out-of-state students. Tuition increases at the branch campuses were slightly lower, but some students had to pay additional, mandatory fees.

In December, the trustees play Santa to the deserving few. But did the chancellor really need another $18,500 on top of an already huge salary and did a committee have to go out of its way to persuade him? Sure, it's peanuts in the larger scheme of things, but to some parents of students, $18,500 might be more than they make in a year. Times are still tough and most people don't have such generous bosses.

We don't blame Mr. Nordenberg -- who wouldn't accept a flattering offer of more money? -- but couldn't the trustees have shown a little more concern for the message they send to the university's customers?

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