President of UA’s largest faculty union calls on regents to reconsider bonus

Abel Bult-Ito, a biochemist and the president of the University of Alaska’s 900-member faculty union, the largest within the university system, wrote a very long, very detailed letter to the chair of the University of Alaska’s Board of regents, Pat Jacobson, objecting to UA president Pat Gamble’s recently-approved $320,000 retention bonus. Among other things, Bult-Ito writes that because details of the bonus were not disclosed prior to the meeting in June where the bonus was approved, the board must take the issue up again when it next meets in September. Read the full letter here.

The bonus was offered by the Board of Regents on the condition that Gamble stay until 2016. It was offered during a time when the university system is facing budget deficits and is in the process of laying off faculty. Hence, the six-figure bonus has been the source of contention, which is spilling over into the political realm. A petition calling on the university to “fund education, not bonuses for executives” has been signed by 1321 people as of Thursday afternoon.

In the letter, Bult-Ito, president of United Academics-AAUP/AFT Local 4996,  disputes every point that has been made by the board to justify the bonus. He also says that the decision by which the bonus was voted on was not in accordance with public notice requirements. The specific terms of the bonus weren’t publicized before the meeting and weren’t on the agenda. He said that because the board failed to do so, the board “will have to approve such a bonus at the 18-19 September BOR meeting in Juneau.”

All of the members of the Board of Regents have been appointed by the Palin/Parnell administration or the Parnell/Treadwell administration. Four seats will be coming open for appointment and will be submitted to the Legislature during the 2015 session for confirmation.

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6 thoughts on “President of UA’s largest faculty union calls on regents to reconsider bonus

  1. Mike Davis

    Are we talking about the same Pat Gambell that is the head of the Kodiak Rocket Launch Commission? He says that the launch that destroyed the facility was a success. Guess if he thinks that’s a success then probably UA doesn’t lool to bad to him. It’s all relative. Now I know what kind of leaderrship you get for $320,000.00 plus a house and auto allowance. No wonder screwdrivers in the Air Force cost $900. Ridiculous. Hopefully, legislators like Pete Kelly, Kevin Meyer and Bill Stoltze will engage in this debate. If not, they are culpable too.

  2. Kathlene M.

    As someone with familarity of the University of Alaska, I was appaulled at the commentary written by Pat Jacobson, Chair of the Board of Regents, printed into today’s Alaska Dispatch where editorials use to appear before the current ownership and management took control of the paper and branded-down the publication. Her rational and explanation borders on the pathetic. One has to wonder if she even wrote it or left it to the team, yes the big team, of public relations professionals on staff to prop up the university’s senior management. Maybe I’m being too hard on the Regents; however, I’m starting to believe that they were believing their own press releases and positive spins that they were putting on an institution that has been crumbling under the current leadership of Mr. Gambell and company.
    There are some quality professors and employees at the schools that makeup the current system. Morale is low. Is this in response to the quality leadership Ms. Jacobson describes in her commentary? There are topp-flight, nationally recognizedprofessors that are paid a third of what the President gets. One of them recently won an award of $10,000 from UA for his excellence. Guess what? He donated it back to the school realizing and recognizing the dire financial straits the system faced. That’s commitment. That’s caring. That’s leadership. When UAA’s Chancellor Tom Case, Gambell’s Air Force buddy, moved into a mansion donated by the Rasmuson foundation, dis Case pay anything for the housing or see a decrease in his salary? Of course not. The UA leadership reminds me of pigs feeding at the trough. It truly sickens me that the Board of Regents support such waste. I hope that Governor Parnell refuses to reappoint anyone involved in this whole debaccle. The voters of Alaska need to pay attention and revolt against such outlandish and indefensible behavior.

  3. Lynn Willis

    This is what happens when a Governor thinks he can just appoint friends and political allies to positions within the state government and then pay no attention to their actions. This has been the pattern for the last five years.
    Just think, a $320,000 bonus on top of a $320,000 salary to a University President while another $254,000 goes to a grossly underemployed (but very politically connected) Space Port Manager in Kodiak.
    No wonder some of those who have them and keep them are so happy with Parnell’s 16,000 jobs. I certainly can think of two ringing endorsements for Parnell that will be coming from academia and the “deep space” of Kodiak. Now that deficit of 7 million per day makes even more sense.

  4. Crossbar Kid

    President Hamilton may have been worth making a bonus offer to stay. He was a Univ of AK president that cared about the school, the teachers and the students. He cared about thje institution and its well-being. He once offered to give up his salary if the legislature full funded the university’s budget request.
    President Gambell is none of that. Nada.
    The Bd of Regents should have been horrified and ashamed that Governor Parnell had to engage to get Gambell to wake up long enough to wake up his buddy Tom Case to fire the UAA athletic director. What an embarrassment to our university system. The Regents were sleeping, the UA President was sleeping and the UAA President was sleeping.
    There’s an old saying that you lead by example. In this case the Bd of Regents’ leadership example is one of apathy and callous disregard. I think Gambell and Case have proven to be very comfortable with that being the mantra of their leadership style.
    I think its time for the Governor and the legislature to insert themselves into the business of the university system again to demand fiscal restraint and responsibility. If the Regents don’t want to work and do their jobs, they should resign.

  5. NP Resident

    Of course they didn’t follow public notice procedures. They wanted to hide their stupidity from the public. I think its time for a new Board of Regents. These dummies need to go. Can any of them spell FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITY? They’ve proven they don’t know what it means.

  6. UAF Alumni

    Gamble is destroying the university I graduated from. It’s become a retirement home for half-assed generals. Both he and Tom Case seem more interested in lining their pockets than in advancing the institution. Why the Board of Regents wants to incentivize Gambell to stay is beyond comprehension. He offers nothing for academia, the spirit of the school has declined and he seems to be extremely satisfied with mediocrity. The UA system deserves so much better. What is Gambell’s vision for the school? Others would have graciously declined the bonus. After all, how many checks does the guy get? This bonus is just wrong. I hope they reconsider and he quits. That would be just fine. Allow either the UAF or UAS Chancellor to act as an interim capacity. Alaska would be better served. The Regents should be ashamed.

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