Topeka Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway will receive a 24 percent raise next year, thanks in large part to a donation from a KU graduate.
Hemenway's salary -- which will go from $219,420 this year to about $272,711 next year -- was approved Thursday by the Kansas Board of Regents.
In addition to the 1.5 percent salary increase given to all state employees, Hemenway will receive about $50,000 annually in private funds, thanks to a $1 million donation from Charley Oswald of Edina, Minn. Oswald also donated $1 million to Wichita State University and Kansas State University to supplement their leaders' salaries.
Oswald's gifts represent the first time private funds have been used to help pay state university leader's salaries in Kansas, though many other states use donations to augment pay.
Oswald said the donations came from a conversation he had with Hemenway last fall at a home football game, when Hemenway noted the state's salary freeze was putting a pinch on resources throughout KU.
"I'm really high on him," Oswald said of Hemenway. "He's a helluva nice guy and doing a great job. So I said, why can't we have a 'distinguished chancellor?' We have all these 'distinguished professors.'"
Oswald said he later decided to extend the salary enhancement to Jon Wefald at KSU and Donald Beggs at WSU. Oswald's mother attended KSU, and he said friends in Wichita had told him Beggs was "a great guy." He wants all three men to stay at their universities.
"I'm doing it because I'm proud of Kansas, and it's a state that should be very proud of the quality of its education system," Oswald said. "It's outstanding and has good leadership, and I wanted to do my part to recognize this. I want (the CEOs) to be more appropriately compensated, so they don't get antsy feet."
Hemenway declined to comment on his new salary level but said he appreciated Oswald's gesture.
"I think it's unseemly to talk about your salary," he said. "But I appreciate Charley Oswald's extreme act of generosity. He's really an unusual person. No one asked him to do this."
Oswald, a native of Hutchinson, is a 1948 KU graduate and was chairman and CEO of National Computer Systems, now NCS Pearson, for 20 years. He now is chairman of Rotherwood Corp., a venture capital firm in Minneapolis, Minn.
The gift announcement comes after regents members spent several months studying whether and how to use the donated money.
Reggie Robinson, president and CEO of the regents, said a task force determined that it should be the state's responsibility to fund Hemenway and other presidents' salaries at a level similar to peer universities.
"We also recognize the state for a number of reasons has not stepped up to fulfill that obligation," he said. "That has left us to pursue using private dollars for CEO salaries in the same way we do for some faculty."
The endowment funds established by Oswald are expected to generate about $50,000 in interest each year. Regents on Thursday set a cap on the total amount of salaries for Hemenway, Wefald and Beggs, an amount equal to the average CEO salaries at their state-selected peer universities.
For Hemenway, that amount is $286,561, or about $13,850 more than he'll receive next year. Wefald and Beggs won't receive the full $50,000 generated by their funds, because their caps are $255,079 and $215,352, respectively.
In other compensation, Hemenway also receives use of a car and The Outlook, the chancellor's residence, from the Endowment Association.
How it compares
According to a report by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, only three CEOs of Big 12 Conference schools made less than Hemenway in 2002. They were Wefald, James Halligan, now retired from Oklahoma State University at $215,000, and Richard Wallace of the University of Missouri-Columbia at $212,920.
Robert Gates, president of Texas A&M's College Station campus, made the most in the Big 12 at $300,000 per year.
Regent Lew Ferguson of Topeka said he would like to find donations similar to Oswald's for the presidents of Emporia State University, Fort Hays State University and Pittsburg State University.
Kathy Jansen, president of KU's Classified Senate, said she wasn't sure how Hemenway's large increase would be received on campus, considering all classified employees and many unclassified employees and faculty members are receiving a 1.5 percent raise.
"I'm glad to see they stuck to a 1.5 percent raise for them for the state part," she said. "As far as the other, that's private money. We can't really comment on how people donate their money. Would any of us turn it down? Probably not."