UC System Salary Report Releases; UCSB Ranks Near Bottom

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Jacob Wong
National Beat Reporter

The California State Controller’s Office released the UC system’s 2017 payroll information last week, including the average salaries for employees at each UC campus, in addition to the Office of the President. Athletics coaches and medical staff were among the highest-paid employees in nearly every campus.

All payroll data that the Controller’s Office released came from its Government Compensation in California (GCC) website, which provides information on public employee benefits and compensation data.

UCSB ranked second to last in payroll among the 10 UC campuses, with an average salary of $29,152 for all employees, just ahead of UC Santa Cruz ($27,579). The university paid its 17,174 listed employees $500,657,996 in total wages and $116,184,823 in total retirement and health contribution, which amounted to to an average of $6,765 per employee.

The 2017 report reveals an overall upward trend in wage prices for UCSB over the past five years, with average wages increasing 14.6 percent since 2013. The numbers tell a similar story for the other UC campuses, with wage and employment numbers going up throughout the system.

However, nowhere are the wage increases as apparent as in the UC Office of the President (UCOP), which has seen the average salary for its employees jump from $79,190 to $94,918 since 2013, nearly a 20 percent increase. UCOP also had the highest average salary among all UC campuses listed at $94,918, paying its 2,125 employees a total $201,699,847 in wages.

UCOP Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher made $1,602,007 on his own. UC President Janet Napolitano had the fourth-highest salary in her office, bringing in $578,916 in 2017.

A look at salary numbers across campuses revealed a curious trend: the highest-paid employees in the UC system were athletics coaches and medical professionals, not professors. The highest-paid employees at UCLA were two athletics coaches, bringing in a combined $6,427,948 between them. At UC Berkeley, three head coaches were the only university employees with salaries above $1,000,000.

At UC San Francisco, UC Davis, and UC San Diego, the highest paid-employees are affiliated with their school’s medical centers, with the CEO of each center earning over $1,000,000.

Meanwhile at UCSB, the highest-paid employee is a professor who earns $494,766. The fact that UCSB, a university without a medical center or a nationally-recognized athletics program, has no employees with salaries over $500,000 can be explained in large part by one significant factor: competition.

“There is a supply/demand market for every job. We do not operate in a vacuum, particularly when other institutions are competing to hire or retain candidates for open positions on our campus,” said UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof in a statement reported by The Daily Californian. “In that context, for every position there is a level of compensation that is required to recruit and retain highly qualified employees.”

While there will always be a demand for Ph.D. holding professors in universities, reports show that the market for them has grown increasingly oversaturated in recent years. When it comes to athletics officials and medical professionals, this is not the case. Universities across the country are in constant competition with each other to recruit high-profile candidates at these positions, which has forced some UC schools to spend millions of dollars to keep up.

However, since UCSB does not have a medical center or a nationally-recognized athletics program, it can afford to stay out of these bidding wars. For now, it appears that UCSB is an exception to the norm.