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S.C. Salary Panel Approves Salaries for New Insurance Director, Winthrop University President

The S.C. Agency Head Salary Commission unanimously approved salaries Tuesday for the new leaders of state Department of Insurance and Winthrop University.

The commission approved an annual salary of $130,000 for Ray Farmer, who was named the Insurance Department commissioner in November by Gov. Nikki Haley and confirmed by the S.C. Senate earlier this month.

The yearly salary for incoming Winthrop University President Jayne Comstock was set at $169,970.

Farmer, formerly a lobbyist with the American Insurance Association, an insurance trade group, replaced David Black, who abruptly resigned in December 2011 after 11 months on the job, according to published reports. Black, a former Greenville-based Liberty Insurance Co. executive, was making $112,407 at the time of his resignation, commission records show.

Farmer will be earning more than his North Carolina counterpart. Wayne Goodwin, the N.C. insurance commissioner, was making $124,676 as of Jan. 11, according to a salary database maintained by the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer newspaper.

Comstock will be paid the same salary, as of Dec. 1, of outgoing Winthrop University President Anthony DiGiorgio, according to a salary database maintained by the S.C. Budget and Control Board (BCB). DiGiorgio, who will retire in June, has served as the president of Winthrop, located in Rock Hill, for 24 years.

Comstock has served as provost and interim president of Butler University in Indiana, and has spent the past six months while on sabbatical from Butler at the Washington, D.C.-based American Council on Education, where she directed the council’s professional development programs for college and university presidents and other administrators, according to published reports and the council’s website.

The organization also lobbies the U.S. Congress and federal agencies on higher education issues, according to its website.

The salaries for Farmer and Comstock do not include any benefits or other forms of compensation. That also is the case for other higher-education leaders listed in the BCB salary database.

Below is a list of the salaries, as of Dec. 1, of top paid college or university administrators. (Presidents are identified with an asterisk.)

  • Harris Pastides , University of South Carolina ‑ $286,200 *
  • James Barker, Clemson University ‑ $245,656 *
  • Ronald Rhames, Midlands Technical College ‑ $181,077
  • P. George Benson, College of Charleston ‑ $179,498 *
  • Luther Carter, Francis Marion University ‑ $178,343 *
  • Keith Miller, Greenville Technical College ‑ $169,060
  • David Decenzo, Coastal Carolina University ‑ $167,400 *
  • Susan Winsor, Aiken Technical College ‑ $163,509
  • Ronnie Booth, Tri-County Technical College ‑ $157,753
  • Daniel Ball, Lander University ‑ $156,779 *
  • Cynthia Warrick, South Carolina State University ‑  $156,504 *
  • Luther Brooks, Piedmont Technical College ‑ $155,150
  • Marilyn Fore, Horry-Georgetown Technical College – $153,110
  • John Rosa, The Citadel ‑ $151,200 *
  • James O’Dell, Florence-Darlington Technical College ‑ $142,355
  • Walter Tobin, Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College ‑ $139,691
  • Thomas Leitzel, Technical College of the Lowcountry ‑ $139,691
  • Henry Giles, Spartanburg Technical College ‑ $139,584
  • Mary Thornley, Trident Technical College ‑ $139,538
  • Gregory Rutherford, York Technical College ‑ $139,100
  • Terry Booth, Central Carolina Technical College ‑ $126,142
  • Ron Bartley, Northeastern Technical College ‑ $126,041
  • Patricia Lee, Williamsburg Technical College ‑ $99,194

Under state law, the chairmen of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees appoint four members each to the 11-member Agency Head Salary Commission. The commission chairman, Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence and chairman of Senate Finance, appointed himself and Sens. Robert Ford, D-Charleston; Bill O’Dell, R-Abbeville; and Wes Hayes, R-York.

Rep. Brian White, R-Anderson and the House Ways and Means chairman, appointed four colleagues to the panel:  Reps. Liston Barfield, R-Horry; Mike Pitts, R-Laurens; B.R. Skelton, R-Pickens; and Leon Howard, D-Richland.

The governor’s three appointees are Tom Hatfield, Rudolph Newman and Barbara Gairns Sokol. Hatfield, a citizen reporter for The Nerve, and Gairns Sokol were absent Tuesday.

Olson can be reached at (803) 254-4411 or curt@thenerve.org. Follow him on Twitter @thenerve_curt and @olson_curt. Follow The Nerve on Facebook and on Twitter @thenervesc.

Accountability General Assembly State Agencies Transparency

Sen. Robert Ford Rep. Mike Pitts Sen. Wes Hayes Sen. Hugh Leatherman Winthrop University Agency Head Salary Commission Sen. Billy O'Dell S.C. Department of Insurance Rep. Leon Howard Rep. B.R. Skelton Rep. Liston Barfield