Gov.'s Wife Grabs New N.C. State - Raleigh Position, Salary Raise

This story was written by Derek Medlin, Technician

Mary Easley, wife of Gov. Mike Easley and an executive-in-residence and senior lecturer at the University since 2005, got an almost $80,000 pay raise July 1, which has raised some questions among faculty and students.

According to Mary A. Tetro, the coordinator for pre-law services and someone with whom Mary Easley will work closely in the future, the experience Easley brings to the staff is something which proves invaluable.

"Mary Easley has phenomenal access to the area's attorneys that we have not had before," Tetro said. "I think she will help us have better relationships."

Originally hired in 2005, Easley has served as part of the Executive-in-Residence program and as a senior lecturer teaching law-related classes in CHASS, a position that paid her $90,300 annually.

The July pay bump also came with expanded responsibilities for Easley, who will become more involved with the pre-law service program and assist Tetro with its direction.

Although Easley's new job is housed within the Office of the Provost under the direction of Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Larry Nielsen, her job title and official responsibilities have yet to be determined.

Provost Nielsen declined to comment on the pay raise Easley received and what her new title with the University will be after attempts to reach him several times throughout the week.

At Wednesday at 7 p.m., however, he released a statement on the N.C. State homepage.

"In her new position, Mrs. Easley's responsibilities have been significantly expanded, warranting a new salary in the range of other management and law faculty at N.C. State and its peer institutions. She has an outstanding academic and professional background... Her work as First Lady and the relationships she has built among the state's and nation's thought leaders bring significant insights and experience to her job and into our classrooms," it read.

Tetro said the decision on Easley's official position is something that will be decided between Nielsen and Easley over time.

"I have met with her and Dr. Nielsen, but I haven't met with them recently to discuss our working together," she said.

Faculty Senate Chair Jim Martin said many members of the faculty have expressed concerns to him about how Easley was hired along with what Martin called an "inconsistent" raise.

"I have received several e-mails and have not seen anyone pleased with what is going on," he said of the faculty response to Easley's new position and raise. "I've heard from many people who are disgusted."

Martin expressed his own concerns about how Easley was hired, saying he was troubled about the fact that the University seemed to be hiring Easley in an executive manner rather than a faculty-guided one.

"Lecturers are normally hired by departments," he said. "It is unwise to hire lecturers not connected to departments. This was an exercise of executive decision going around the faculty."

Easley has recently come under intense scrutiny after several reports indicated she was a member of a group of state delegates who took two trips to Europe, costing N.C. taxpayers more than $100,000.

Despite the criticism and speculation surrounding Easley's trip to Europe and the unanswered questions about her new position with the University, many feel her experience within the legal community will do nothing but help.

Greg Doucette, Association of Student Governments president and Student Senate president, said he feels Easley's addition to the pre-law faculty will do nothing but help the University.

"I don't have any inside information or anythingbut my take on it is that her addition is all the better for N.C. State," Doucette, a senior in computer science, said. "I don't fault her for leaving her old position to take a new one, especially at a higher salary."

Doucette also said Easley's "unique background" will help students.

"Frankly, if she can make any improvements at all to our pre-law program, I say pay her double," he said. "As a tuition-paying student, there is all kinds of other stuff I could take issue with before I would take issue with Easley's salary."

Peter Barnes, a sophomore in forestry management and president of the College Republicans, disagreed with Doucette and said Easley's new position and salary is uncalled for.

"I can see paying somebody because they have a unique set of skills, but when you are paying someone that much money it is just ridiculous," he said. "She definitely has invaluable experience, but we need to see exactly what her position is and exactly where the money is coming from. Administration needs to be straightforward."