GRU administration slightly smaller, but some are richer

There might be fewer administrators after the consolidation of Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities earlier this year, but many department chairs got big raises in the bargain, according to an analysis by The Augusta Chronicle.

Overall spending on administration at Georgia Regents University declined by 2 percent after consolidation compared with the previous two administrations, but many of the department chairs received hefty raises, with one getting a bump of more than $70,000. Overall, more than $900,000 in raises were distributed, about two-thirds of it to former GHSU administrators.

About half of the administration, including GRU President Ricardo Azziz, received no raise, and only six faced a pay cut. The amount spent on administration declined from a combined $30.3 million to $29.8 million this year, which the school said is 3.8 percent of the overall budget, less than either school spent percentage-wise before consolidation. There were 20 fewer administrators overall, according to The Chronicle analysis.

In an e-mail to employees before complying with The Chronicle’s Open Records request for the salary data, Susan Norton, the vice president for human resources, acknowledged that the total administration salaries “remained relatively the same,” partly because of the raises. Many administrators “now provide greater coordination across the entire enterprise; (there was) the hiring of selected new administrators at market salaries; and increases in the salaries of several clinical administrators who increased their clinical productivity and revenue,” Norton wrote.

At the top of the heap in terms of money was Dr. Alvin Head, the chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, whose salary increased by $71,000 to $587,000 a year, more than Azziz makes. Dr. Sam Robinson got the biggest percentage increase – 45 percent – or $35,000 to $113,525 a year, to become interim dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. Dr. David Fulton got a $53,000 raise to $253,000 a year by becoming the director of the Vascular Biology Center after serving as interim director the previous year.

In her e-mail, Norton says that “almost half (47 percent) of the reported salaries are funded through clinical revenue” from the university’s health system “or other non-state revenue sources.”

In February, one of the boards that governs the university’s health system voted to provide additional money to its Medical Associates group for three departments critical to maintaining its trauma services – anesthesiology, radiology and the cardiothoracic division of the Department of Surgery. The health system contracts with the physician group to provide clinical and administrative services, but physicians in those areas often struggle to collect the professional fees that cover salaries, benefits and overhead costs, officials said at the time.

The new agreement was worth more than $500,000, they acknowledged during the vote, but initially refused to say exactly how much. A document obtained through an Open Records request shows that the health system agreed to cover losses up to $1.9 million for anesthesiology, up to $2,006,000 for cardiothoracic surgery and up to $4.8 million for radiology. The agreement also included stipend amounts for new hires, but the health system redacted those areas in the document provided to The Chronicle. It is unclear if any of those stipends resulted in raises to administrators. GRU spokeswoman Christen Carter said no one was available Friday to discuss the administration salaries.

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