New UConn spokesman will make more than national average

The University of Connecticut will pay its new top spokesman $227,500 a year — $80,000 more than the median pay for this position among the 1,240 colleges surveyed nationwide and almost $17,500 more than the median pay at other doctoral-granting institutions.

The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources — the national clearinghouse for pay comparisons of higher education officials — reports the median salary of a university’s chief external affairs officer hovers around $150,000.

In announcing Tysen Kendig for the job last week, UConn President Susan Herbst outlined the importance of the position in a statement.

“How aggressively we communicate about ourselves and tell our story as an institution is one of the essential components of our success as a top public university,” Herbst said.

Kendig leaves his post as vice president for strategic communication at the University of Iowa. According to UConn’s  press release about his appointment, Kendig oversees the UofI news services, media relations, brand development, graphic design, broadcasting services and electronic communications. He also administers Iowa’s alumni association and performing arts center.

A spokesman for UConn said in a statement that Kendig’s salary is competitive when compared to the top 50 national research universities.

“We have to be competitive. We don’t exist in a vacuum,” said Tom Breen, a spokesman for UConn. “If UConn were to decide that we are unwilling to recruit high quality faculty and senior staff because of the cost, that would without question diminish the university and how competitive we are able to be… As a state, we want UConn to be a highly competitive university when it comes to faculty, staff, research and students – and that comes at a cost.”

According to UConn, the median salary for a top communications staff member among the top 50 national research universities is $230,000 a year.

“We set salaries in accordance with the market, both to be responsible and accountable, and to ensure we stay competitive with other top universities,” Breen said.

UConn came under fire a year-and-a-half ago after the Hartford Courant disclosed that their top police chief was making significantly more than police chiefs in much larger college systems. UConn’s Board of Trustees reacted by setting up a committee to review the salary levels of all non-faculty administrators.

A spokesman for the system last week said that committee has not yet made recommendations to the board surrounding top-level pay.

A comparison of UConn’s top three positions by the Connecticut Mirror last year found that the compensation for the university’s president, provost and chief financial officer all rank in the middle when compared to their peer universities.

UConn’s overall administrative staffing, however, drew the attention of Bloomberg News in a recent story on administrative “bloat.”

The chief information officer at the Board of Regents, the state’s other college system, makes $130,000 a year.