Former UNM President Louis Caldera left the position almost five years ago, but his name still appears in the University salary book as a law school professor making $124,000 a year.
Caldera has not received a penny from his listed salary since he has not instructed a course at the law school after leaving the University in 2006, said Kevin Washburn, UNM Law School dean.
“We were receiving his salary, but we weren’t paying it to him,” he said.
Instead, the law school used his salary to cover operational costs such as guest lecturers, faculty and student travel, and research positions.
“They (UNM) don’t give us operational revenues to pay for the administration of the law school,” he said. “We would use any additional revenue that we have to run the school.”
Since UNM allocates money to the law school based on the revenue it receives from faculty salaries, additional revenue often includes salaries from faculty who are on leave.
“Salary lines fund the law school. When we have a professor on leave, we harvest their salary line,” Washburn said. “They are not getting paid; we get the money at the law school, so we use that money to help us pay for other expenses that we really need to cover.”
Caldera negotiated for a tenure home at the law school when he took his job as University president, according to UNM spokesman Benson Hendrix. Caldera has been on sabbatical since he resigned from the president’s office in January 2006.
The Provost’s Office confirmed Caldera resigned from the faculty in December 2010. However, his position is still considered as part of the salary faculty line at the law school. As a result, his salary will be used to fund different functions at the law school next year, Washburn said.
“We rely on certain people being gone,” he said. “Every year we got two or three people who teach elsewhere or are on leave. If everybody who is technically on our faculty at the law school in one year were teaching and demanding a salary, we would go broke.”
Caldera could not be reached for comment.
The salary book, which is compiled by the payroll department, could also be using bad data, Washburn said.
“It lists what his (Caldera’s) salary would be if he was teaching at the University,” he said. “But since he was on leave, he wasn’t drawing it. So, technically, it’s right.”
Representatives from the payroll department declined to comment.
Caldera received a compensation package of more than $323,000 when he resigned as president. Had Caldera received a paycheck from the law school, his pay would fall roughly within the median salary for UNM Law School professors.
“There is faculty that makes more than that, and there is faculty that makes less than that; it’s not grossly out of kilter,” he said.
Washburn said the law school would prefer not to rely so heavily on salaries from professors on leave.
“We can barely keep track of professors coming or going,” he said. “If a professor is on leave for a semester, their salary will still be listed. We have only 30 faculty or so, but, at any given time, five or six of them are on sabbatical or working at another school. It’s always a moving target.”
Although Calderas’ salary helped the law school, it was important to open his spot so a full-time professor could take it, Washburn said.
“We didn’t want to keep holding his spot to keep us from hiring, so he graciously agreed to forgo keeping that option available,” Washburn said. “We are usually willing to do it for a year without too much trouble. After that, we start asking questions of whether he still needs it.”
By next year, the law school will have another salary to replace Caldera’s, Washburn said.
“It would be helpful to get money for operational expenses so we could cover all the things we have to do like faculty travel and research assistants,” he said.