Bonus for UA's Gearhart 

Bonus for UA's Gearhart

It passed without notice in the daily press at the time, but the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees completed its annual meeting on campus executive pay last week by granting one significant bonus along with a slate of pay increases for campus chancellors. It approved $225,000 in deferred compensation to G. David Gearhart, chancellor of the flagship campus at Fayetteville. His pay also will rise from $282,000 to $289,000.

Trustee Sam Hilburn made the motion for the $225,000 bonus – which will come from the private University of Arkansas Foundation and be held for Gearhart until retirement from the chancellor's job. John Tyson seconded it. It was approved without discussion. The money is immediately vested for Gearhart.

Gearhart was the only chancellor to receive any form of additional compensation. John Ed Anthony, chairman of the UA Board, said Gearhart had done a “super job” and his pay was among the lowest in the country for leaders of campuses of the UA's stature. He said it was understood when Gearhart was hired that the UA needed to improve the pay of Fayetteville's chancellor, but Gearhart accepted a lower pay than the job should have commanded on his hiring a little more than a year ago because of difficult economic circumstances. “This seemed the time for that to be addressed,” Anthony said.

The search for president

John Ed Anthony confirmed several things we'd heard about recent discussions concerning a new president for the University of Arkansas System. President B. Alan Sugg has announced his retirement in 2011.

Anthony said there was strong support on the board, as has been reported, to elevate Gearhart to the presidency. He said, however, that a minority of members of the board thought that there should be an open application process in which Gearhart should participate, even though these members also favored Gearhart.

Anthony said the Board likes to govern by broad consensus. But, Anthony said, the desire that Gearhart be made to apply for the job, rather than be chosen by acclamation, was not the stumbling block to Gearhart's selection. Instead, it was Gearhart's desire that he continue for some period as chancellor of the Fayetteville campus as well as president. He's only been at Fayetteville for a year. He's hired a leadership team. He's expressed an interest in completing his beginning goals for the campus.

The prospect of a UA president concurrently being the top official at Fayetteville caused discomfort at other UA campuses, with their sometimes competing interests.Ultimately, Gearhart announced he would stay as chancellor at Fayetteville and not seek the presidency.

In response to a question, Anthony said he hoped the occasion might arise that Gearhart could again be considered for the presidency. But he said Gearhart had “conditioned himself to the idea he could end career as chancellor and be happy.” Anthony said he was confident the UA Board would hire a “fine president,” but there was always the chance in 5 to 10 or more years that the position would be open again.

Other campuses

John Ed Anthony was asked if he was concerned that other chancellors in the system might resent a special payment for Gearhart.“I don't feel that in routine meetings with other chancellors,” he said. “They recognize this is the flagship campus and the student body is much larger and the demands and requirements are exceptional.” Apart from the UAMS campus, the second-highest-paid UA chancellor in 2011 will be UALR's Joel Anderson, ?at almost $224,000.

UA President Sugg noted that new hires in organizations often are paid at rates far beyond those in an organization for much longer periods. He said, for example, he expected his successor will likely be paid more than the $300,000 he'll make beginning July 1.

“I think it's valuable we keep David Gearhart as chancellor at the UA,” Sugg said. “He has a lot of momentum there. He's a great fund-raiser. The faculty and staff and administration have a lot of confidence in him and the alumni feel good about him.”

Screen to green

Another news reporter has defected to the public relations world. KARK Channel 4's Cecillea Pond-Mayo will go from covering courts and the Capitol for the local NBC affiliate to answering press inquiries for the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. Pond-Mayo replaces Aaron Sadler, also a former journalist, who now serves as the press secretary for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. Mayo, who'll be paid $51,000, said she wanted a job that would allow her to spend more time with her daughter after 15 years in the news business.

Prez Huckabee?

Is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee considering another run for president, or just leaving that impression to help build his appeal as a TV and radio host, lucrative gigs that have none of the messy accountability provisions of public jobs? We don't know, but we'd suggest Huckabee might forget about a run for president unless he can softsoap talk show host Rush Limbaugh, the de facto opinion leader of the Republican party.

In a new Limbaugh biography, “An Army of One,” author Zev Chafets writes that the frontrunner for Limbaugh's support for president is Sarah Palin, then Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. It won't be Huckabee, Chafets says. Rushbo calls the Huckster “an irresponsible populist.”


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