PULLMAN — Former Washington State University Provost Steven Hoch may face some resentment when he returns to work as one of the best-paid history professors in the country.
Some members and former members of the school’s department of history are upset that Hoch will be paid $245,000 per year, far more than the market rate for such faculty, the Lewiston Tribune reported Tuesday.
The school is contractually obligated to pay nine-elevenths of the $300,000 administrative salary Hoch lost last week when President Elson Floyd relieved him of his duties as provost. He was guaranteed a tenured faculty position when he was hired earlier this year.
“I would not envy him in terms of what I think would be resentment on the part of many of the faculty,” said retired WSU history professor LeRoy Ashby. “If one thinks in terms of equity in the department, I would be hard-pressed to make the case for him making anything near that amount.”
“At no point in my career did I approach even half of that (salary),” said Ashby, who taught 36 years.
Hoch came to WSU from the University of Kentucky, where he served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He has repeatedly declined to comment on the case, saying he will talk after the issues are resolved.
Hoch, an expert in Russian history, was granted paid personal leave on Sept. 23 after just seven weeks on the job. He will officially step down as provost on Oct. 31 and join the history faculty.
The university has not released any information on why the change occurred. The provost is the academic head of the school.
Richard Hume, who has taught history in Pullman since 1968, said it will be hard for Hoch to prove he is worth the money.
“He has a big salary; does he have big responsibilities?” Hume asked. He also wondered what Hoch’s salary would do to the history department’s need to fill three vacant positions.
“We don’t have that much money,” Hume said. “We’re lucky if we can buy our paper and pencils.”
WSU has instituted a hiring freeze in the face of an expected tight budget year.
Another history professor, Jerry Gough, said he didn’t know where Hoch’s expertise would fit in the department’s curricula.
“Russian history is not as popular as it once was,” Gough said.
Floyd on Monday announced the nine-elevenths calculation will not be used in future contracts.
“Instead, we will use new language that compensation of an administrator returning to faculty status will be proportionate to the market and at a level not to exceed the highest salary of the faculty members within the department at the same rank,” Floyd wrote in a letter to the WSU community.
Information from: Lewiston Tribune, www.lmtribune.com