Politics & Government

Easley's raise may have violated policy

In giving first lady Mary Easley a raise of nearly $80,000, N.C. State University appears to have violated a UNC system policy intended to provide extra scrutiny of unusually large pay increases.

The policy requires the UNC system's governing board to approve increases topping 15 percent or $10,000. Last week, N.C. State raised Easley's salary from $90,300 to $170,000, about 88 percent.

“It appears to me that this is the size increase that should come before the board,” said Hannah Gage, who chairs the UNC system's Board of Governors. “We have this policy that in essence checks and balances, so there's a second set of eyes that looks at significant increases. It's in everyone's best interest that governance be carried out consistently across the system.”

University system and N.C. State officials are trying to determine whether the policy was violated, Gage said. The policy does not apply to new hires, and a footnote to the policy allows large raises without system approval for current employees being promoted through a competitive process or to a higher rank.

It isn't clear whether any of those exceptions apply to Easley, for whom an “executive-in-residence” position within the provost's office was created in 2005.

Efforts to reach N.C. State officials for comment about the UNC system policy were unsuccessful, as were efforts to reach Easley herself. A spokeswoman in Gov. Mike Easley's office referred questions Wednesday to the university. Mary Easley declined to be interviewed about the raise last week, but Gov. Easley told WRAL his wife was getting a new position, not a pay raise.

According to the two university offer letters – the first from 2005, the second dated May 7 – Mary Easley's job title has not changed. She is a senior lecturer with the “special faculty rank” of executive in residence. From the start, her job was housed within the provost's office rather than in an academic department. She is not eligible for tenure, according to the offer letters, which were provided by the UNC system and N.C. State.

Her starting salary in 2005 was $80,000 for her full-time position. But the job has expanded, N.C. State officials said.

Easley, a lawyer, was hired in 2005 to teach three courses and direct a speakers program. Now she also will coordinate law education initiatives and create and direct a public safety leadership center.

The 2005 letter specified that Easley would teach three courses. The more recent letter indicates that she will teach in an administrative officers training program but does not say how often.

The average salary for a full professor at the university is $110,000.

In giving first lady Mary Easley a raise of nearly $80,000, N.C. State University appears to have violated a UNC system policy intended to provide extra scrutiny of unusually large pay increases.

The policy requires the UNC system's governing board to approve increases topping 15 percent or $10,000. Last week, N.C. State raised Easley's salary from $90,300 to $170,000, about 88 percent.

“It appears to me that this is the size increase that should come before the board,” said Hannah Gage, who chairs the UNC system's Board of Governors. “We have this policy that in essence checks and balances, so there's a second set of eyes that looks at significant increases. It's in everyone's best interest that governance be carried out consistently across the system.”

University system and N.C. State officials are trying to determine whether the policy was violated, Gage said. The policy does not apply to new hires, and a footnote to the policy allows large raises without system approval for current employees being promoted through a competitive process or to a higher rank.

It isn't clear whether any of those exceptions apply to Easley, for whom an “executive-in-residence” position within the provost's office was created in 2005.

Efforts to reach N.C. State officials for comment about the UNC system policy were unsuccessful, as were efforts to reach Easley herself. A spokeswoman in Gov. Mike Easley's office referred questions Wednesday to the university. Mary Easley declined to be interviewed about the raise last week, but Gov. Easley told WRAL his wife was getting a new position, not a pay raise.

According to the two university offer letters – the first from 2005, the second dated May 7 – Mary Easley's job title has not changed. She is a senior lecturer with the “special faculty rank” of executive in residence. From the start, her job was housed within the provost's office rather than in an academic department. She is not eligible for tenure, according to the offer letters, which were provided by the UNC system and N.C. State.

Her starting salary in 2005 was $80,000 for her full-time position. But the job has expanded, N.C. State officials said.

Easley, a lawyer, was hired in 2005 to teach three courses and direct a speakers program. Now she also will coordinate law education initiatives and create and direct a public safety leadership center.

The 2005 letter specified that Easley would teach three courses. The more recent letter indicates that she will teach in an administrative officers training program but does not say how often.

The average salary for a full professor at the university is $110,000.

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