Payroll is the single largest expense for the University of Hawaii system.

As a public university funded mostly by state tax dollars, the salaries of University of Hawaii employees are a matter of public record. Yet, those figures aren’t easily accessible.

UH does submit an annual salary report to the Hawaii Legislature each November, but that listing only includes executive and faculty positions and does not include names. The most recent report only contains about 3,800 titles, about half the number of total employees at the university.

Civil Beat filed a request under the state’s open records law with the university’s Department of Human Resources asking for the names, positions and salaries of all UH employees across its 10 campuses and executive offices.

UH provided a list of 7,510 employees, organized by department, not by name or salary. For employees represented by the Hawaii Government Employees Association, United Public Workers union and the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, the university provided Civil Beat with salary ranges. (To learn more about the salary classifications, go to this university website or this other university website.)

The salaries outlined in the document reflect pay cuts taken by faculty and university administrators to help deal with the short-term budget crisis.

To see a sample of the searchable database available to full members of Civil Beat, please go here.

Salaries and benefits represent 63 percent of the university’s systemwide operating expenses. The university had a $1.1 billion operating budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year, of which $670 million — or 60 percent — was funded by the state’s general fund, which the public fills when it pays taxes such as the general excise tax and personal income tax.

As the economy soured and Gov. Linda Lingle imposed across-the-board cuts to state departments, UH was faced with a $155 million budget shortfall for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 fiscal years. At the same time, the university was accommodating a record number of students — spring 2010 enrollment hit an all-time high of 56,912 students statewide.

To cut costs, UH cut its payroll and laid off 150 faculty and instructors in 2009.

The list of salaries obtained by Civil Beat reflects pay cuts of between 6 percent and 9 percent for approximately 200 top executives — the president, vice presidents, deans, chancellors, vice chancellors — which went into effect September 2009 to trim about $2 million from the budget that year. At the time, UH had said the reduced salaries would be in effect until at least July 1, 2011.

The figures also reflect the 6.7 percent pay cut imposed on most professors Jan. 1, 2010. UH negotiated a new six-year labor contract effective Jan. 1, 2010, with the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, which represents about 3,200 UH faculty members. UH agreed to restore the pay to Dec. 31, 2009 levels in mid-2011, and add raises in 2013 and 2014.

The cuts are expected to save $44 million over the next two years, while the raises are expected to increase payroll costs by $45.6 million in the 2013-2015 fiscal years. Lawmakers had said the university should be responsible to fund the pay increases without the use of general funds.

That’s where tuition hikes are likely to play a role. UH President M.R.C. Greenwood has said the university is looking at implementing tuition increases to help cover operating costs. The university is nearing the end of a six-year tuition hike that began in 2007, which has almost doubled tuition costs across its three baccalaureate campuses and seven community colleges.

Civil Beat analyzed how money is spent on salaries.

A breakdown of payroll expenses by campus and department shows that the flagship Manoa campus accounts for 64 percent of UH’s salary costs and the community colleges collectively account for 17 percent of salary expenses. This while fewer than 40 percent of the students attend the Manoa campus.

We also looked at the cost per student for salaries on the various campuses. The breakdown shows that on the Manoa campus, UH spends $14,741 per student to cover payroll. The figures are significantly lower at the other campuses. At the UH-West Oahu campus, for example, the university spends $6,530 per student on employee salaries. And at the Kapiolani Community College campus, despite having the most students among UH’s community colleges, the least amount per student is spent on employee salaries — $3,577.

Even after the faculty and staff pay cuts, a sizable chunk of UH employees earn $100,000 or more in pay, according to the Civil Beat analysis. The exact figure isn’t clear because the university is not required to disclose actual salaries for unionized workers, and instead provided salary ranges for those positions. But at minimum, 12 percent of employees and as many as three out of every 10 employees could be eligible to earn six-figure salaries at UH.

Civil Beat also determined UH’s highest-paid employees and lowest-earning positions from the data provided by the university. The highest-paid employee at UH makes 52 times as much money as the lowest-paid position. That means the highest-earning employee in a week makes what the lowest-paid position earns in a year.

We also analyzed the average salary by position and compared it to national averages. Civil Beat found that most UH instructors are paid above the national averages for public universities and colleges, based on salary information from the American Association of University Professors. Other non-instructional positions appear to be on par with national averages based on salary surveys by the College & University Professional Association for Human Resources.

Here are a few average salaries by position. Some are ranges because salary ranges were provided for unionized positions:

  • Associate professors at UH’s community colleges earn an average salary between $70,457 and $78,639. The national average is $58,708 for two-year public colleges.
  • Full professors at UH’s community colleges earn an average salary between $81,774 and $87,838. The national average is $71,910 for two-year public colleges.
  • Assistant professors at UH Manoa earn an average salary between $71,077 and $72,675. The national average is $61,359 for four-year public schools.
  • Full professors at UH Manoa earn an average salary between $110,507 and $129,060, while professors at the UH Hilo and West Oahu campuses earn an average salary between $86,964 and $110,763. The national average salary for professors at a four-year public university is $103,521.
  • Chancellors at UH make an average of $203,819, and most also teach at their respective campuses. Nationally, chancellors earn an average of $170,045 at four-year universities and $149,234 at two-year colleges.

A university isn’t all academics. On the payroll, you’ll also find:

  • University locksmith: $44,544
  • Tree trimmer: $39,972
  • Heavy truck driver: $39,972
  • Painter: $47,268
  • Sprinkler system repairer: $36,960
  • Refuse collector: $36,960
  • Tractor operator: $35,544
  • Plumber: $46,236

This is the full database of 7,510 UH employees.

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