University presidents in Kansas and Missouri are retiring with substantial financial packages that were uncommon a decade ago for leaders of public colleges.
Large exit packages are now “common practice,” said Peter Eckel, vice president for programs and research at the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. He said the money attached to those deals keep getting bigger, and more often the exit deal is worked out when leaders are hired.
Robert Hemenway, who retired from Kansas University in 2009, took a year’s sabbatical and in 2010 returned to the Lawrence campus for a year to write a book and teach an English class for two semesters. He was paid $340,352 for each of those two years, the same annual salary he’d gotten his final year as chancellor. Hemenway is now fully retired and hasn’t received a salary from the university since the summer of 2011.
Other university presidents in Kansas and Missouri who’ve retired over the last five years with lucrative packages include Kansas State University President Jon Wefald. Before Wefald retired in 2009, he was paid $315,962 a year, which included a base salary of $255,298 in state funds and $60,664 from private sources.
When he retired, the Kansas Board of Regents agreed he’d continue to receive his annual base salary of $255,298 for the next two years while he wrote a book about his tenure leading the university.
“One thing I did not expect is how time-consuming this would be,” Wefald said about his book writing. “They are not just giving money away. I’m working seven days a week. This is important. A history of K-State.”
Since 2011, Kansas State has continued to pay Wefald as part of a five-year plan but at a lower rate of $157,982 annually.
The packages given to Wefald and Hemenway were a way to “recognize them and thank them for service to their respective campuses, for their longevity,” said Christine Downey-Schmidt, a member of the Board of Regents.
When University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton retires this fall he’ll direct the Brady and Anne Deaton Institute for University Leadership in International Development on the university’s Columbia campus. He will be paid $200,000.
The payouts don’t always sit well with faculty.
“At a time when faculty, for the last eight years, have not been able to keep up with the cost of living ... I find it unconscionable,” said Gary Ebersole, a history professor and the Faculty Senate chairman at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.