Archive for Wednesday, April 25, 2018

After stepping down, former KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little still receiving more than $500,000 per year salary in ‘special advisor’ role

In this file photo from Feb. 6, 2016, University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little answers questions during an informal forum at The Commons in Spooner Hall.

In this file photo from Feb. 6, 2016, University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little answers questions during an informal forum at The Commons in Spooner Hall.

April 25, 2018, 2:17 p.m. Updated April 25, 2018, 5:09 p.m.


Bernadette Gray-Little is receiving $510,041 to serve as a "special advisor" to the University of Kansas despite having stepped down as the school's chancellor nearly nine months ago.

Gray-Little has remained at KU as a special adviser since the start of the fiscal year in July, KU officials confirmed after being questioned by the Journal-World on Wednesday. The $510,041 salary is the same amount she earned during her final year as chancellor, a university spokeswoman said.

“The Kansas Board of Regents, to which the chancellor reports, set the terms for the chancellor’s departure,” KU spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said in an email. “Those terms state that she would serve as a special advisor to the new chancellor from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018 at the same salary she received during FY17.”

KU confirmed Gray-Little’s special adviser position within the university Wednesday after a Journal-World reporter inquired about state payroll data that included Gray-Little’s name and her role as a special adviser. The Wichita-based free market think tank Kansas Policy Institute recently published the list that included Gray-Little's name and salary.

Gray-Little's salary includes $229,518 from private sources and $280,523 from public sources.

It is unclear exactly what Gray-Little has done in her role as special adviser. When reached via telephone, she would not answer any questions but simply referred the reporter to KU or the Board of Regents.

The Board of Regents’ terms of departure for Gray-Little specified that her new role would “consist of helping the new Chancellor, at his or her request, become acquainted with the University’s unique programs, its several campuses, and other areas,” Barcomb-Peterson said, quoting Board of Regents literature.

“Chancellor Gray-Little was incredibly helpful during the leadership transition last year and continues to provide invaluable counsel to various KU administrators on a variety of topics," Barcomb-Peterson said.

Gray-Little announced in September 2016 that she would step down as chancellor after the 2016-17 school year.

A national search and interview process for KU’s next chancellor ensued, and KU Medical Center leader Douglas Girod was announced as chancellor on May 25, 2017. Girod’s first day was July 1, 2017.

Girod’s salary as KU chancellor is $550,000, according to his agreement with the Kansas Board of Regents. Private funds from KU Endowment pay for $175,000 of Girod’s salary — leaving $375,000 coming from state funds, according to the agreement.

In Gray-Little’s final interview with the Journal-World as chancellor — in May 2017, a few days before Girod’s hiring was announced — she said she did not yet have “concrete plans” that she could share about what she would do after vacating the chancellor’s office.

Gray-Little emphasized that she was not retiring.

“I’m leaving this position,” she said.

Gray-Little said she would continue to have some affiliation with KU and would remain a KU employee “for several months” but did not elaborate. She said she also would continue her work on several national higher education boards and initiatives.

“I will have no role in running the university,” she said.

Gray-Little said at that time that she did not have a retirement compensation package or any contract buyout compensation coming.

The Journal-World has reached out to the Kansas Board of Regents for comment.

— Journal-World reporter Sara Shepherd contributed to this report


Calvin Anders 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Wow, remember when this kind of advisory stuff was just done out of courtesy or assumed to be an expectation of one's retirement package? KU pays faculty terribly low wages and graduate teaching assistants less than a living wage. Yet somewhere in the budget the Regents find the money to keep paying the former chancellor over half a million per year, for nothing in particular. This serves as a pretty good illustration of how screwed up academic funding models are these days. From university deans and chancellors to public school district superintendents, a huge slice of the money seems be wasted on fat cat salaries and perks for administrators. It's just stupid.

Tracy Rogers 3 weeks, 3 days ago

That's ridiculous. I can see paying an advisory amount for one year after a transition, but for it to be her same salary as when she was chancellor is atrocious.

Sam Crow 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Where is Barrett-Gonzolez, Lev Comolli, president of KU Against Rising Tuition, and the group protesting this ?

Joe Norgay 3 weeks, 3 days ago

What in God’s name is happening up on the hill? Is the University of Kansas trying to do its best impersonation of the Trump administration?

Seriously, when did KU become such a terrible place?

Lee Henry 3 weeks, 3 days ago

If she was impersonating Trump She would not any salary...He takes none for the Presidency....

Gary Stussie 2 weeks, 6 days ago

...which he donates each quarter to a different Government agency ...2017 ... 1st Qtr - the National Park Service ... 2nd Qtr - the Department of Education ... 3rd Qtr - the Department of Health and Human Services ... 4th Qtr the Department of Transportation, to help fund a new grant program for repairing or building infrastructure.

Only the left would try to portray a common and decisively liberal boondoggle as being a "best impersonation of the Trump administration". Get your head out of the sand!

Bob Summers 3 weeks, 3 days ago

She is worth every penny. I hope she gets to fly in the company jet to defray some of the costs of special advising.

Clara Westphal 3 weeks, 3 days ago

The professors on the hill deserve that money more than Gray-Little does. She is doing nothing but bleeding the budget. The fact that she refused to answer questions shows that she knows what she is doing is wrong.

David Klamet 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Clearly, KU had reason to downplay (or should I say hide) this--and did so. These practices are a part of the increasing burden born by a populace that is increasingly frustrated and angry.

The LJW has done an admirable job of investigating KU and our local governments and I hope they will continue.

This is money that could, and should, have been used for something worthwhile.

Gwendolyn Macpherson 3 weeks, 3 days ago

I'd like to know what former Chancellors were paid for this same service. Equal treatment, please, LJW.

David Klamet 3 weeks, 3 days ago

More information is always good, but just because other organizations engage in something does not justify it.

With the value of a college education increasingly called into question, with the continuing increase in tuition and explosion of student debt, the increased use of adjuncts and TA's to cut costs, we are justified in questioning these actions.

In one way or another, WE pay these salaries and we have a right to say no.

Dave Trabert 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Glad to see LJW asking this question. I wonder if they were tipped off to this by the article published by Kansas Policy Institute five days ago. ...or maybe the article published by The Sentinel two days ago If so, happy to help...but kudos again if LJW discovered it on their own.

By the way, the entire state payroll listing that KPI released five days ago is here

Bob Summers 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Think of all the homeless that could be taken care of if just one of these most valuable government jobs were completely eliminated.

Think of the hungry.

Thank you Dave Trabert for exposing the mindless government waste.

Dave Trabert 3 weeks, 3 days ago

My apologies...didn't see the mention of KPI when I first saw the story

Alex Landazuri 3 weeks, 2 days ago

only the koch bros, corporations, and people who cant think for themselves are the only ones that care about what you or alec has to say. just about everyone else sees through your bs

Jeff Goodrick 3 weeks, 3 days ago

And we thought CEO's were bad guys. I guess that why a degree in 1976 was $4000 and today it's $60,000

Douglas Garst 3 weeks, 3 days ago

In summary: The Kansas Board of Regents searched high and low, turned over every rock in the Nation, amassed mountains of information on numerous people, looked in ever nook and cranny, interviewed slews of people to find the most highly undisputed qualified person to replace the KU Chancellor Gray-Little. After countless hours and days of grinding their teeth the Kansas Board of Regents made the gigantic decision in selecting KU Medical Center leader Douglas Girod. Because of Girod's undisputed superior qualification the Kansas Board of Regents agreed to a salary of $550,000 for Douglas Girod. Yep, Douglas Girod was the person that has the undisputed intelligence to lead KU into the 22nd Century.

BUT WAIT!!! Douglas wasn't as smart as the Kansas Board of Regents thought so they kept Chancellor Gray-little on the payroll at the tune of $510041 to "teach" Douglas Girod the "ins and outs, the ropes, and most importantly the location of the KU cafeteria.

Who would have thunk that the Kansas Board of Regents was so smart...Maybe Adidas.

Miles Nease 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Douglas, You forgot to mention the $183,500.00 that KU paid R. William Funk and Associates to select said candidate already on the payroll.

Paul Jones 3 weeks, 3 days ago

KU's first "CEO" Bobbie Hemenway got three years at his full salary when he left the chancellor position.

Question is, who are those anonymous endowment donors who put up the funds for this and did they gain something from the services of these chancellors as the university indulges itself in the world of corporate play?

Lots of funny business going on at KU especially among the ever growing ranks of upper and middle management.

Paul Jones 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Davie I think you are off the mark. The university is only receiving a piddly sum from a state that doesn't think education is important so the university is now handmaiden to corporations and providing opportunities for consultants and other hucksters using student tuition funds. Because of the brilliant tax plan of the goof you admired we now see pet projects funded (athletics for example) instead of a comprehensive plan that doesn't attempt to gut degrees where people learn critical thinking. Obviously given the state of this state your plan is working quite well.

Tuition has been going up because of the lack of state funding which has opened a large can of worms when the university becomes beholden to soda business, athletic gear, television contracts for the entertainment business it is expected to run. At least when it was under the state there were some guidelines but now, thanks to your efforts, it is falling into line with your corporate agenda.

Thanks to your efforts students can only affordable to those with the daddies who have skipped out on paying taxes or kids who need loans and can only graduate in huckster degrees where they can make money in corporate America after they graduate.

It is truly amazing that your ilk can twist this into the belief that universities are hotbeds of socialism. Obviously you aren't spending a lot of time at universities today. The chancellor is just getting the same perks corporate CEOs get and very little if any of that money is coming from the taxpayers.

Dave Trabert 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Not sure what 'mark' you think KPI is off...we merely published the data. As for your other comments...

Funding for regents universities is about the same as in 2003. One could perhaps understand a tuition increase above inflation since state funding is flat, which would account for a 65 percent increase through last year, but KU went up more than four times that amount, hiking tuition and fees by 268 percent! Our analysis of regents data last year also noted that KU is spending about 30 percent more per-student that K-State and increased costs more than double the rate of inflation.

Paul Jones 3 weeks, 2 days ago

But Dave, you let the cat out of the bag as you attempt to make the university a private business. They are all scratching each others backs and playing the way a private business does, like the kid who jacked up the price of medicines for severly ill people. The school is ran like the business school types you support and maximizing profits baby! What would we see if it was turned into a private school? More of the same and then some!

Paul Jones 3 weeks, 2 days ago

And Davie, why not go back to the mid 80s for a cost comparison when the great neoliberal undermining of this country began? 2003, heck there were already massive cuts by that time, in fact that was already past the point when Hemenway opened the campus to the business world.

Dave Trabert 3 weeks, 2 days ago

I used 2003 because the Kansas Department of Education says measurement on NAEP since then is valid and reliable.

Paul Jones 3 weeks, 2 days ago

How convenient. I suppose you couldn't go back and run the numbers when the State started abandoning it's responsibilities to higher ed, back when you got your education for cheap thanks to a generation before that was more civic minded than a family of Birchers that don't believe they owe anything for all that was handed them.

Funny, the times you mentioned though saw the gradual outsourcing to your corporate buddies and the university buildings began taking on the names of business and business people instead of chancellors.

The university is no socialist mecca you try to portray it as being and certainly not getting much of its money from taxpayers. That's what you wanted right? Why upset about tuition going up, that's something right out of business school because the university compared what other universities are charging across the country and priced it accordingly. Sounds like outstanding business skills that you should admire. The university is a corporation baby with a CEO and doing it just like your Koch boys would but you won't be happy until you boys can privative the whole thing and then we will be able to look back fondly on these days.

Hudson Luce 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Maintaining a private jet at a cost of over $1 million per year, and giving the former chancellor slightly over half a million dollars for unspecified services would suggest that KU is not underfunded or is "strapped for cash". And having former students subjected to a lifetime of debt penury in exchange for often unmarketable degrees seems to be a betrayal of the mission of service to the people of Kansas for which KU was originally founded. I think an independent audit of KU's financial affairs is in order, along with significant reform in the way that it is run.

Paul Jones 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Not strapped for cash but getting their cash with strings attached, skimming off the research funds as the cost of doing business used for special pet projects, tie ins with corporations and consultants where there is a lot of back scratching going on.

The problem is only getting worse by continuing to distance the university from the State oversight.

Chris Warman 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Can I get in on this? Where do I send my resume?

Chris Johnson 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Students choose to come to KU, they choose their majors and they choose to borrow. No one forces them.

Paul Jones 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Right, because if you don't have money you will come to put yourself in debt for an English degree.

There used to be a time when we appreciated a well educated person but now we want hucksters who do know or ask questions about the wars of empire and if they are content watching sports and drinking beer then life is good.

The bull about the Russians undermining our elections could only come about when you have a citizenry that only sees itself as a consumer.

Paul Jones 3 weeks, 2 days ago

It's interesting that there is a problem paying a former chancellor when the university paid millions to coaches and an AD to sit at home. I'm sure the same people upset with this payment are the same ones calling for another coach to be fired and paid.

We really need to sports out of the university at this level. The jet is used mostly for the athletic department, if you are going to get mad about extravagant salaries that's where one should look first. Money is corrupting the whole system and it starts with the way sports have gone, academics is just following down the same road.

Tracy Rogers 3 weeks, 2 days ago

How much money do the sports programs get from taxpayers? Pretty sure majority of their funds are generated from within.

Paul Jones 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Generated from within? Operating on state property in a quasi-world of being part of the university when it comes to using the plane and not when they pay million dollar salaries from donations made available from the rich not being taxed that can be written off on their taxes and gain William Fund points all the while shorting the money available to support the real purpose of the university. And who gets the money now for the use of the Jayhawk? Who gets the shoe contract money? Why was the athletic department handling who sells sodas on campus this time around?

Sam Crow 3 weeks, 2 days ago

So you are unable to get into a basketball game huh ?

Joe Norgay 3 weeks, 2 days ago

If there was no KU basketball then KU would be some pohdunk school in the middle of no where. Do you realize how much money KU basketball makes KU the university in terms of exposure, prestige, etc.?

Don’t be mad because that’s the way the world works.

Paul Jones 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Ah, so you provide proof that the only thing a university is to you and many others is for sports entertainment. That pohdunk stuff is actually what a university is supposed to do.

Carol Bowen 3 weeks, 2 days ago

I would hope that the chancelor's position would not be turn-key. It makes sense to overlap arrival and departure. The new chancellor would be spinning his wheels without information on what currently exists. When we critique our public entities, we should keep in mind that we know very little about being a chancellor or what a successful transition would be. What is the expression? Armchair quarterback?

Clara Westphal 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Maybe a chancellor candidate should have a background in university administration. Then, they wouldn't have to have someone guide them through the process. .

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