University of Memphis president to receive $96,000 raise as workers left waiting

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — University of Memphis trustees are recommending a new salary of more than half a million dollars, plus bonuses and benefits for university President M. David Rudd.

But some who represent more than 300 campus employees who are not making $15 an hour say they’re still waiting on change.

Trustees this week recommended a raise of more than $96,000 for Rudd after they brought in an outside consulting firm to compare his salary and benefits to other universities, saying his fell below market median.

The university would bump up his base salary from more than $428,000 to $525,000, effective Oct. 1, saying that under Rudd there have been record-breaking improvements, as well as better student retention and graduation rates.

Rudd’s employment agreement will not only have a higher salary but also eligibility for performance bonuses, housing, auto and phone allowances.

The raise comes at a time when there’s been a push to increase the salary of the university’s lowest wage earners, who have been fighting to make $15 per hour.

“To many it’s almost like a slap in the face to see the president receive a raise of this significance,” said Jayanni Webster, with West Tennessee Organizer for United Campus Workers.

Back in July, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris vetoed the University’s request for $1 million for a new pool, withholding money while calling for all employees to make a livable wage.  That decision was overruled by the county commission.

At the time, Rudd said there are plans for all employees to eventually make $15 per hour.

But Webster, who said it’s undeniable President Rudd has contributed to the community, says they’re still waiting for details.

“But at the same time, he is able to do that because he can show up to a work environment that is clean, that is safe, that is healthy, off the backs of employees who cannot afford to put gas in their car and put on the table for their children,” Webster said.

A few months ago the trustees signed off on raises for other employees. The lowest earning went from $10.60 per hour to $11.11 an hour, a 51 cent raise.

We reached out to the board of trustees and the university for comment but have not heard back.

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