News that Wichita State's retiring president will receive a golden parachute of $76,300 raises some interesting questions.
Is there any universal guideline for salaries, severance pay or retirement gifts paid to university chancellors/presidents?
Earlier this week news reports told of Wichita State University's outgoing president, Gene Hughes, being given a retirement gift of $76,300, roughly half of his former annual salary of $152,678. For this $76,300, Hughes is expected to offer consulting services for one year to his successor.
Funny thing about Wichita State presidents and their retirement or ``golden parachute'' policies. Warren Armstrong received his full salary of $113,500 for a year after he stepped aside as the school's president in 1993 after a 10-year tenure. Hughes, by the way, served as WSU president for 5 1/2 years, and will live in his retirement home in Flagstaff, Ariz., and return to Wichita to counsel the new president, if asked, and will be paid travel expenses.
As might be expected, many WSU faculty members and students are upset about the $76,300 payment to Hughes, claiming faculty members are underpaid and students are being asked to pay higher fees for various services.
However, Jim Appleberry, a former president of Pittsburg State University and now president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, said retiring college presidents normally get a full year of pay after they retire. In the world of university presidents, Appleberry said, it is simply an expected part of the compensation for years of 16-hour workdays.
Appleberry, a former administrative intern at Kansas University, added a school can suffer if it doesn't adequately pay a departing president. If a school gets a bad reputation among administrators, he said, it can be difficult to recruit good presidents.
This being the case, WSU ought to be near the top of the list in attracting potential presidents in light of their generous going-away presents for the school's departing presidents.
It may be that some former KU chancellor has received a going-away present from the regents in the way of a year's salary, but this wasn't the case when Gene Budig left after 13 years to become president of professional baseball's American League, nor was it the case with former Chancellor Archie Dykes, who left KU for a business position in Topeka.
Perhaps, for some reason or other, Appleberry and some regents think departing Wichita presidents deserve special ``thank yous'' or going-away presents.
KU's head man, Robert Hemenway, receives an annual salary of $182,532, plus free housing and some funds to take care of expenses associated with the job. It's doubtful he is counting on or has been assured a generous financial severance package.
Another recent news story told of a university president receiving a substantial increase in his salary after only one year on the job. Max Yudof, University of Minnesota president, was given a $50,000 raise several weeks ago bringing his salary to $275,000.
Bill Hogan, former KU faculty member and now chairman of Minnesota's board of regents, said Yudof is doing ``an outstanding job. We want to keep him for a while.''
Yudof, a former dean of the University of Texas school of law, now has the third highest chancellor/president salary in the Big 10 conference, topped only by the presidents of Michigan and Ohio State universities.
As high as Yudof's salary may be at Minnesota, at least five people associated with the school are reported to have made more than Yudof's $275,000.
Highest on the list is former KU football coach and now Minnesota head football coach Glen Mason with a base salary of $429,000.
Apparently it's all a question of priorities, because at most major universities football coaches and many basketball coaches have higher salaries than chancellors and presidents ... although, if Appleberry is correct, many university prexies other than at KU have very attractive retirement packages.
It would be interesting to know why there is one policy for payment to retiring WSU presidents and nothing for retiring KU chancellors.