House Speaker's former chief of staff gets big pay raise at UNC job

House Speaker's former chief of staff gets big pay raise at UNC job

CHAPEL HILL, NC (WBTV) - A top administrator at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received two pay raises totaling $50,000 in June, just six months after being hired.

Clayton Somers was hired to serve as Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs at UNC-Chapel Hill in early January. Somers come to the job from the North Carolina General Assembly, where he served as chief of staff to House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland).

The job Somers took was a newly-created vice chancellor position that expanded the role of the previous chief of public affairs at the university. The job includes managing local, state and federal relations as well as serving as the primary liaison between the UNC Chancellor's office and the UNC Board of Trustees.

At the time he was hired in January, Somers' annual salary was $280,000.

Emails obtained by WBTV show that salary was the high end of a salary cap set in place UNC System President Margaret Spellings when she agreed to approve the position that was being pitched by UNC-Chapel Hill leadership in summer 2016.

"Also, the President made clear to me this morning when she gave this the go-ahead that the salary for the new VC shall not exceed that of the new GA SVP for External Affairs, which is $280k," UNC System Vice President for Human Resources Matt Brody wrote to Felicia Washington, Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity and Engagement at UNC-CH.

"It may very well be less depending on who is elected, but you will want to make sure (UNC Chancellor) Carol (Folt) knows that it shouldn't exceed that amount," Brody continued in his email to Washington regarding the $280,000 salary cap.

The new position was approved by the UNC System Board of Governors in July 2016.

Information provided by UNC-Ch to WBTV shows Somers received two raises in June 2017, roughly six months after starting his job.

The first raise came on June 1, 2017, when his salary increased to $304,640. Later that month, on June 30, 2017, Somers' pay was increased again to $331,448.

A spokeswoman for UNC-CH could not point to any increase in responsibility or additional roles Somers took on when receiving the roughly 18 percent pay raise. Instead, a spokeswoman pointed to two recent performance reviews that formed the basis of the five-figure pay raise.

"Since joining the University staff in January, Vice Chancellor Somers has received two excellent performance reviews, which are reflected in his current salary," the spokeswoman said in a statement.

The university spokeswoman did not respond to multiple requests for an explanation as to why Somers' pay was increased beyond the cap set by the UNC System at the time the new vice chancellor position was created.

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