Who’s not getting a pay cut to help balance WKU budget?

Leo Bertucci

When WKU released a list of faculty and staff members whose pay will be cut for the 2020-21 year to help balance the university budget, one high profile name was absent.

Deborah Wilkins, who will step down as WKU general counsel next week and become a senior adviser to President Timothy Caboni and Title IX coordinator for the next two years, will keep her $178,164 salary. She will face no cut in the tiered salary-reduction plan that will trim pay of faculty and staff making over $50,000 a year by as much as 10%.

That, Wilkins said, is because her new contract approved by the WKU Board of Regents set her salary.

“The Board approved an employment contract for me on May 15, 2020,” Wilkins said via email. “Part of the contract provided that the salary would ‘remain unchanged/unadjusted’ during the term of the contract,” which ends June 30, 2022.

Bob Skipper, director of media relations, said in an email that salary reductions were not automatically applied to university employees who are under contract because they had the choice of opting into the pay cut voluntarily.

Several of those who work under employment contracts apparently opted in on the pay cut. Football coach Tyson Helton, WKU’s highest paid employee at $800,004, will see his pay drop to $720,003.60. Men’s basketball coach Rick Stansbury, with a salary of $650,004, will be cut to $585,003.60.

Andrea Anderson, who replaces Wilkins as general counsel next week, is getting her pay of $178,164 cut to $160,347.60 for 2020-21.

The Board of Regents will vote to approve the tiered salary reduction plan on Friday. The plan, if approved, will save the university approximately $2.4 million during the upcoming year, part of the administration’s strategy for covering a shortfall of about $27 million blamed on the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The tiered salary reduction plan has a staggered approach. For faculty and staff making between $50,000 to $100,000 a year, a 1% reduction is added on for every additional $12,500 made. Faculty and staff who make $100,00 or more have a reduction of at least 4% and an additional 1% is added on for every $8,000 made. Salaries that total $148,000 or more are tagged with a 10% reduction.

Members of the WKU President’s Cabinet and college deans