The SUB was the center of legislative action as the Montana Board of Regents and the Education Interim Committee (EDIC) met for a joint session on Thursday, Nov. 21 and Friday, Nov. 22. The Board of Regents is responsible for governing the Montana University System, while the EDIC reviews and drafts legislation regarding the many topics influencing education in the state. As such, both authorities came together to address issues directly impacting MSU and its students.
A motion to increase payment of employees in the university system working on an hourly wage was among the ideas approved by the Board of Regents. Starting in January of 2020 and 2021, all campus employees on hourly pay will see a wage increase of either 2% or $0.50 per hour, depending on which is larger.
MSU’s President, Waded Cruzado, will see a dramatic increase in her salary, as the Regents voted to offer her more than a $150,000 increase to her current salary from here on out for her to remain in her position at MSU. This award came in an effort to keep Cruzado from leaving MSU after rumors began circulating that she had received a larger offer from an undisclosed university. The pay raise will take the president’s total salary from approximately $320,000 to $476,000 annually.
Critics of the decision compared the new salary to the $11 average hourly rate paid to Montana residents, using this difference to question the true need for the increase. Supporters pointed out Cruzado’s track record at MSU, during which enrollment and graduation rates have drastically increased and millions of dollars have been raised for new buildings on campus since Cruzado took office in 2010. “I’m not leaving, my heart is at Montana State University,” Cruzado said.
“I think that it is the fiscally responsible thing to do,” Commissioner of Higher Education, Clayton Christian, said. “There is no way we can look for a new president without incurring costs associated with the hire, costs associated with the recruitment process, time, and energy.''