On Dec. 11, 2010, the NMU Board of Trustees voted to give President Les Wong a 4 percent increase to his current base salary, which would mean an increase of $7,700 to $201,995. In 2008, Wong was to receive a salary increase but turned it down in order to set an example for the rest of the faculty and staff.
While the timing may not have been ideal as the state is trying to climb out of an economic crisis, we’d be hard-pressed to say that the president of the university doesn’t deserve a raise. Of course, there are other things the raise could have been spent on, but Wong has been firm in his resolve to make sure that other mouths are fed before his, an exemplary quality and leadership skill. And the raise isn’t astronomical, this increase is smaller than any other raise Wong received since he started in 2004.
It’s also important to note that the raise Wong received does not make his salary equal to some of the presidents of other Michigan universities; according to a December Mining Journal article, he has the second lowest salary of all university president’s in the state. Wong and the Board of Trustees are doing their part to make sure the salary of the president stays competitive with other schools the size of NMU. If Northern is to be a great bastion of learning, its professors and administrative staff should be compensated accordingly and that’s what the Board tried to do most recently with Wong’s pay.
It’s better to increase his salary by small increments than to give him a giant pay raise at one time, which was done with Wong’s predecessor, Judy Bailey, who was given a $40,000 increase when she started in 1997.
Wong is an active participant in the many goings-on at Northern and gives more of himself than the position may require, as seen by the financial gifts given by him and his wife, Phyllis, each year. This level of enthusiasm for the lives of the students, faculty and staff he leads is proof enough that the raise is deserved. We hope that members of the NMU community will focus on the great qualities of Wong as NMU president and stand together in support of the raise.