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Governor Chris Gregoire, a Democrat, and some higher education leaders in Washington State are criticizing Western Washington University officials for agreeing to a faculty contract that grants raises of 5.25 percent this year and 4.25 percent each of the following two years, plus an increase of 15 percent in stipends for department chairs, The Seattle Times reported. "Your agreement seems to ignore the shared sacrifice that other state employees in general government and institutions of higher education have made during the Great Recession," Gregoire wrote in a letter to Bruce Shepard, the university's president. She added that Western's raises "will hurt current and future efforts to protect and increase funding for public higher education." A spokesman for the University of Washington, where faculty members have not received a raise since 2008, said that officials there were surprised that Western Washington agreed to salary increases. Shepard defended the raises, saying that they came only after administrators cut the budget where they could. The raises were needed, he said, to recruit and retain quality professors.