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Azziz says he will review MCG administrative pay

'Chronicle' found major increase in administration, salaries over past 5 years

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The incoming president of the Medical College of Georgia said Monday that he will look into an investigation by The Augusta Chronicle that found a major increase in administration and salaries at the school over the past five years.

Dr. Ricardo Azziz said that when it comes to possibly resuming relations with the MCG Foundation. "everything at this point is on the table."   Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Dr. Ricardo Azziz said that when it comes to possibly resuming relations with the MCG Foundation. "everything at this point is on the table."

Dr. Ricardo Azziz, who will take over July 1, said during a visit to campus that his arrival signals a "fresh start," and he left open the door to working again with the MCG Foundation, which his predecessor replaced.

"I do think that the decision of the (University System of Georgia) Board of Regents, the chancellor and the governor to appoint an external candidate with a strong experience in health care administration and clinical and translational research sends a strong signal that they felt it was time for a new emphasis and a fresh start," Azziz said.

He has asked MCG staff to plan his schedule for his first six weeks so he can meet individually with as many people as possible, both inside and outside the school.

"I think it's very important to listen before you make a judgment," Azziz said. "I also think it is important to make a judgment in a timely fashion so you can't listen forever."

Though he has not heard directly from faculty and staff, Azziz said he understands many are "frustrated" with the administrative salaries. The Chronicle found that administrative salaries rose by 53 percent from fiscal year 2005 to the current fiscal year, double the rate of overall salary increase at MCG. The number of vice deans and vice presidents increased from 13 to 25, and some saw their salaries go up 90 percent or more in a time when the school has seen its state funding decrease by 22 percent, with many employees being asked to take furloughs.

"I can understand the community's concern, particularly the students and faculty," Azziz said. "There's been a lot of budgetary restrictions; it is a very difficult time for the nation. And I can empathize with their concern."

But, though he was not questioning The Chronicle 's analysis, Azziz wants to look at things in a broader context.

"I'm going to try to do my own review of the data," he said. "I'm going to try to understand trends in salaries.

Some of the growth might be a result of MCG's ambition to be seen as a national leader in many areas, Azziz said.

"It may well be that this increase in costs was justified in order for us to actually move to the next level of growth and to actually serve and begin to function as a mature university," he said.

Though he did not directly say he would open up talks with the MCG Foundation, "everything at this point is on the table," he said. Former MCG President Daniel W. Rahn severed ties with the MCG Foundation over past squabbles and formed a new one, but Azziz said the conflict has hurt the school's philanthropic support.

"I pride myself on being a bridge-builder," he said. "I think that there are often honest differences of opinion that can be resolved. At the same time, my responsibility will be to begin to grow the university in a forward manner. I will spend relatively little time looking backward. And will ask all of us to look forward to the future because the future of MCG is truly Augusta's future and it is actually part of the regents' future."

Administrative pay increases

The Augusta Chronicle found that administrative salaries rose by 53 percent from fiscal year 2005 to the current fiscal year, double the rate of the overall salary rise at MCG. The number of vice deans and vice presidents increased from 13 to 25, and some saw their salaries go up by 90 percent or more in a time when the school has seen state funding decrease by 22 percent.

COMING SUNDAY

Incoming MCG President Ricardo Azziz talks to The Chronicle about the changing direction of Medical College of Georgia, its clinical system and its research, along with his own work studying the impact of fat on the body.

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Frogmore
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Frogmore 05/10/10 - 05:55 pm
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Of course, Dr. Azziz will

Of course, Dr. Azziz will look at the salaries and they will be in alignment with national salary trends.

Perfect timing, well executed. End of story.

I know I feel better now.

methree
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methree 05/10/10 - 06:21 pm
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wow! he's good at the double

wow! he's good at the double talk

KatieLou
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KatieLou 05/10/10 - 06:30 pm
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Is it possible that the

Is it possible that the campus side is trying to get somewhat congruent administratively with the Health, Inc side in anticipation of a merging of the two entities sometime in the not-too-distant future? Don Snell eliminated lots of administration executive positions and reduced the layers of the administration by creating a bunch of VPs directly below himself. This may be a step toward reducing duplication, which would be a big money saver down the road.

citizensmh
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citizensmh 05/10/10 - 09:17 pm
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The new guy on the block will

The new guy on the block will not roll into town and put himself on the [filtered word] list by taking away these big pay raises. Some of those people on the list are political players at MCG, even if they aren't worth the paper their high salaried checks are printed on. He doesn't want to make those enemies.

Pay What U Owe
5
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Pay What U Owe 05/10/10 - 09:36 pm
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Hopefully he will find more

Hopefully he will find more important things to do that root around non-stories made up by the Chronicle. Given that some faculty make more than he does, Azziz will not find too much internal incentive to scrutinize salaries.

Whyisit01
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Whyisit01 05/11/10 - 06:43 am
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MCGHI has so many directors

MCGHI has so many directors of this, directors of that, all these directors are getting the raises whereas the little peeon (administrative support staff) are still being paid the same salary since 1999.

HTN007
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HTN007 05/11/10 - 08:10 am
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So, what does it all mean in

So, what does it all mean in terms of dollars........the 53% increase from 05 to now........that could have been used for things like keeping current programs like the nurse anesthetist training program operational? Has anyone actually calculated this number?

Chillen
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Chillen 05/11/10 - 08:29 am
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I swear this guy looks a lot

I swear this guy looks a lot like Al Franken.

On a separate note, I kinda feel sorry for him stepping into this controversy. Public opinion vs his staff. Budget issues. Tough decisions to be made. I guess that's why he makes the big bucks.

Riverman1
70548
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Riverman1 05/11/10 - 08:41 am
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Thanks to the Chronicle for

Thanks to the Chronicle for bringing up this important issue. Dr. Azziz has been left in a difficult position, but it's better that he starts with the knowledge the public is aware of the questionable raises. We will see if he is able to correct the problems.

Roycliff
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Roycliff 05/11/10 - 09:08 am
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This is good PR and what any

This is good PR and what any new president would say. He comes into a very tough situation since he needs to build immediate loyalty among his top people. So unfortunately, there will be some kind of "study" and absolutely no raises will be reversed.

Tom Corwin
7418
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Tom Corwin 05/11/10 - 10:20 am
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HTN007, The actual

HTN007,

The actual administrative salary figure for Fiscal Year 2005 is $17.2 million and for Fiscal Year 2010 is more than $26.1 milllion. Here is the link to the previous story where we analyzed the salary data and Medical College of Georgia administrators provided an explanation: http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/metro/2010-05-02/salaries-mcg-administ...
There is also a link above under Related Content.
As far as the nurse anesthetist program, administrators have said they will allow students currently enrolled in any program to graduate before they close a program. The amount of the cut in FY 2011 has also decreased from about $25 million to around $10 million, so the severity of cuts will likely be much less.

Esctab
565
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Esctab 05/11/10 - 02:35 pm
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Nice to read that Azziz has

Nice to read that Azziz has asked "MCG staff to plan his schedule for his first six weeks so he can meet individually with as many people as possible..." It would be even nicer if Azziz would consider meeting with the faculty who have lost their jobs over the last 12-18 months. Hopefully, Azziz will consider looking into why M$C$G$ has so many interim faculty; if he truly wants to know what has happened at M$C$G$ he will meet with the individuals who previously held those positions. History matters. Getting a "fresh start" requires knowing how and why M$C$G$ is in such a mess.

jwsaxon
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jwsaxon 05/11/10 - 02:50 pm
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Hey Chillen, I was thinking

Hey Chillen, I was thinking he looked like Drew Carey with hair.

Riverman1
70548
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Riverman1 05/11/10 - 03:04 pm
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Horton, good point. He should

Horton, good point. He should meet with those folks to get another viewpoint.

Riverman1
70548
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Riverman1 05/11/10 - 03:09 pm
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Daniel Rahn looks like a

Daniel Rahn looks like a salesman on the Taylor Toyota used car lot.

Chillen
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Chillen 05/11/10 - 03:13 pm
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And ironically on a different

And ironically on a different article today it looks like tuition at MCG, UGA & GA Tech will go up about 16%.

jwsaxon. I can see the Drew Carey thing too! He's a master of disguises.

Esctab
565
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Esctab 05/11/10 - 04:03 pm
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M$C$G$ has been busier than a

M$C$G$ has been busier than a three legged cat covering feces. Face to face meetings are an important part of the learning curve for Azziz; hopefully he will also read the Morehead Faculty Satisfaction Survey results.

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