HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - University of Hawaii administrators are asking the Board of Regents to approve a salary of $195,000 for the UH Manoa's next head librarian, a pay level that's being criticized as "out of line" and "appalling" by some librarians, their union and a state lawmaker who's been critical of UH spending choices.
Irene Herold is paid $105,140 as the dean of Mason Library at Keene State College in New Hampshire, a small state school with about 5,200 students, roughly a quarter the student population of UH Manoa. So her new UH job will provide her with a $90,000-a-year raise.
Next week, the UH Regents will vote on a proposal to hire Herold as UH Manoa's university librarian, overseeing three libraries, an $15 million annual budget and about 145 faculty and staff.
Herold's proposed annual salary is $195,000 for three years and she'll be granted tenure automatically, under the deal set to go before the regents in a vote March 21.
That's $50,000 higher than the interim UH librarian is being paid now and $52,536 more than the last permanent university librarian was paid before she left UH in December of 2006. The permanent position has been vacant for more than six years.
"I think the salary is out of line," said State Sen. Sam Slom (R-Hawaii Kai, Kahala), a critic of many management and spending decisions by UH administrators. "And it says to me that again the university is not taking seriously the recommendations the legislature made."
After a State Senate inquiry into the UH's failed Stevie Wonder concert last fall, senators recommended various reforms, policy changes and spending cutbacks.
UH Manoa spokeswoman Diane Chang released a written statement that said, "In filling this leadership position, the recommended salary for the university librarian was arrived at after taking into consideration national compensation data for similar positions, and through negotiations with the selectee (Herold), who was highly qualified."
Chang said the university was "unable to provide someone for an on-camera interview today."
Herold's salary will be nearly double that of the highest paid UH senior librarians she oversees. Librarian 5s, the senior category of librarians, range in pay from about $75,000 to $103,000, according to UH records.
One of them, Monica Ghosh, a 22-year veteran of UH's Hamilton Library, said she thought Herold was the best choice out of the two finalists for the position and she has nothing personal against her.
But Ghosh told Hawaii News Now by phone late Friday afternoon, "I'm appalled at the huge discrepancy between faculty and administrators' salaries."
Ghosh said she found out Friday that her request for a $3,000 "special salary adjustment" which she applied for last May had been denied based on "lack of funds." She said other librarians of her rank and experience were making as much as $7,000 more a year than she was and so she applied for a small raise.
"We are in the worst personnel and fiscal situation in the 22 years I've been here," Ghosh said.
She is in the acting head of Hamilton Library's Asian collection, after the man who headed that collection retired at the end of last year. While he made more than $100,000, Ghosh said, she makes "less than $80,000" and is getting a $300-a-month stipend for heading the Asian collection in addition to her regular job which is overseeing the library's Southeast Asian materials.
Kristeen Hanselman, associate executive director of the faculty union UHPA, said, "There's a problem of relative value here," referring to the $195,000 salary proposal.
Hanselman said she's gotten phone calls from several UH librarians who've said, "We're being denied access to our financial well being and basic resources but they offer this kind of salary to our administrator?"
Hanselman said librarians are angered at the proposed high pay for the new librarian, since UH administrators have told rank-and-file librarians there's no money for librarians' merit raises or to buy new materials and supplies.
Hanselman also said UHPA opposes the instant tenure being granted to Herold, something Hanselman called "inappropriate." UHPA has long opposed tenure granted to other high-paid UH administrators, saying if UH needs new faculty members, it should have an open hiring process that others can apply for instead of filling the jobs with former administrators who may have been unsuccessful or fallen out of favor with UH leaders.
UH officials have said Herold's proposed salary is equivalent to that of deans or directors of other departments. For instance, as of May 2012, UH's dean of education was paid $199,368 and the dean of architecture's salary was $188,520.
Slom -- a UH grad -- has problems with that.
"And the question is should the head of library services be equivalent to a dean in the first place? I think they have different job descriptions and I think they have different responsibilities," Slom said. "We keep raising these salaries and then, later on we say, for something new that we're going to do, 'It's the equivalency of.' Well, we've done that. I mean, it wasn't equivalent five years ago or ten years ago. It's equivalent now."
"I'm sure that if this was coming out of the pockets of the people in administration at the university, you wouldn't be seeing these kinds of salary inflation and escalations," Slom added.
UH students Hawaii News Now spoke with outside its flagship Hamilton Library had different opinions on the issue.
"In my opinion, teachers' salaries and administrators' salaries should be increased because I believe that they provide a very valuable service," said David Heller, a graduate student studying dance.
Nicki Shobert, a freshman engineering student, said, "So that does seem like a little bit more than maybe is fair. I can't imagine she's doing twice the work of upper-level people, upper-level librarians."
A phone message left on Herold's voice mail at Keene State College late Friday afternoon, New Hampshire time, was not returned Friday.
Herold has been at Keene State College since January of 2002, where she spent five years as director of its Mason Library. She became dean of the library in October 2007 and was granted tenure as an associate professor there in December 2011, according to her resume.
She was one of two finalists for the UH job. Herold visited the UH campus on Feb. 7 and 8, making a public presentation during that trip. The other finalist, Brad Eden, dean of library services at Valparaiso University in Indiana, spent time at UH Jan. 17 and 18, and also made a public presentation during his visit.