Southern Oregon University President Mary Cullinan's contract has been renewed for another two years with a $20,000 increase in pay.

Southern Oregon University President Mary Cullinan's contract has been renewed for another two years with a $20,000 increase in pay.

The State Board of Higher Education earlier this month approved a $10,000 annual "longevity adjustment" increase, retroactive to 2011-12, and a 5 percent increase in salary, bringing her annual pay to $205,236. Her contract was renewed in June.

Similar 5 percent increases in pay were approved for five other presidents in the university system.

In 2009, at the height of the recession, Cullinan and other university presidents took a voluntary pay reduction. The 4.6 percent decrease brought her $185,460 salary down to $176,928.

In 2010, her original salary of $185,460 was reinstated.

Then, Cullinan was the lowest paid university president in the system. Now, her salary is fifth highest of the seven presidents.

The other university presidents' salaries are now $623,385 for Oregon State's Edward Ray; $194,736 for Eastern Oregon's Bob Davies and Western Oregon's Mark Weiss; $540,000 for Portland State's Wim Wiewel; and $210,108 for Oregon Institute of Technology's Christopher Maples. Newly appointed University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson, who was hired at an annual salary of $540,000, did not get an increase.

Cullinan was not available for comment, said Jim Beaver, SOU director of interactive marketing and media relations.

The 5 percent increases at OSU and PSU will be made up by the universities themselves and their internal foundations, rather than through OUS dollars, said Di Saunders, OUS director of communications.

The $10,000 longevity adjustment Cullinan received in June was accompanied by a $15,000 similar increase for Ray. With six years under her belt at SOU, and nine years for Ray at OSU, the two are the longest serving presidents in the university system.

"Even with the proposed increases, compensation and salary packages continue to be near or below the median of peers," OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner advised the board during an Aug. 3 meeting. The board questioned the message presidential salary increases could send during a year of across-the-board tuition increases.

According to the Administrative Compensation Survey prepared by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources for 2010 and 2011, which the Board of Higher Education used as a rationale for the increases, the average salary for presidents of public masters universities with budgets of less than $50 million was just over $220,000.

The board defines each of its four regional universities by that standard. Accounting for about 3 percent inflation in 2011, the board concluded that about $226,000 is the national average for presidents at universities with budgets of less than $50 million annually.

Unlike the three largest universities, Cullinan and the other regional university presidents do not receive salary support from their schools' foundations, Saunders said. However, all university foundations can make deferred compensation payments to an account for their presidents, which act as a type of pension, Saunders said.

"Aside from longevity pay, our presidents haven't seen an increase since 2008," Saunders said. "The board decided it was well deserved, after some discussion."

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email swheeler@dailytidings.com.