The college president's dole | Arkansas Blog

Monday, July 14, 2008

The college president's dole

Posted By on Mon, Jul 14, 2008 at 8:59 AM

UCA's Lu Hardin is by no means the only Arkansas campus leader whose statutory payment is augmented by outside sources. He is, so far as we know so far, the only one whose augmentation wasn't carefully handled enough to stay within the legal limits. You are allowed by state law only your statutory pay plus a 25 percent bonus from public money.

Belatedly, I notice David Sanders wrote a column Sunday on a $250,000 deferred comp plan, financed by a campus-related Foundation, for Arkansas Tech president, Robert Brown. The column doesn't cover all the nitty gritty, but Arkansas Tech appears to argue that the foundation in this case is fully private and thus any payments made at its discretion to the president are outside the state pay cap. Sanders writes about secrecy in the operation of this foundation. That is perhaps legal if the foundation receives not a cent of public money from Arkansas Tech. It's still bad practice. And its payments also must be reported annually in filings with the IRS. Plus, at UA campuses, top leaders file an annual disclosure on outside income sources. Thus, for example, you can see the payments coaches receive from the Razorback Foundation and any outside pay the chancellor receives. I don't know if this is a legal requirement or only campus policy,  but it's a sound practice.

UPDATE: David tells me the Tech Foundation is housed on university property and its employees are paid by the university. If that's true, no way in hell they can claim an FOI exemption. Razorback Foundation tried that years ago. Lost. That's when they went totally private.

Another e-mailer this morning wrote to complain about the bonus plan and retirement plan voted for the former president of Henderson State University, along with a housing stipend. In this case, the payments were reportedly Board authorized and financed by public money, apparently within the amount allowable by law. The writer just believed it excessive.

The mail started me thinking about housing stipends and other add-ons. Is this considered income for purposes of computing maximum allowable pay?

It's probably time for a comprehensive statewide look at total pay packages and money sources for all the top campus leaders in Arkansas.


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