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Breaking down the private funds that pay the KU chancellor’s salary

If the comments on this story and the interactions with the @LJW_KU Twitter account last week are any indication, many of you had some thoughts and feelings about last week's Kansas Board of Regents vote to award a pay increase to KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, along with the chief executives at the state's other public universities.

One important detail, amid declining state funding at KU, is that the $60,000 raise for Gray-Little will come entirely from private funds. That means the privately paid portion of the chancellor's salary is approaching the state fund-paid portion: About $272,000 will now came from state funds, with about $221,000 coming from private funds.

That left me with a question: What are those "private funds," exactly?

Well, they come from the KU Endowment Association, but it's a little more complicated than that.

First, some history. KU chancellors' salaries consisted entirely of state funds until 10 years ago, in 2003, when Chancellor Robert Hemenway began to receive an additional $50,000 per year thanks to a $1 million donation from a KU graduate. That donor, Charley Oswald, of Edina, Minn., also donated $1 million each to Kansas State and Wichita State universities.

Each donation created a professorship fund — like ones used to pay additional salary for distinguished professors — to bolster the salary of each university's chief executive.

Ten years later, that fund at KU provides about $70,000 of the chancellor's salary, said KU Endowment President Dale Seuferling. The rest of her salary — and all of the $60,000 increase the Regents approved last week — comes from the Endowment's Greater KU Fund, to which donors can make unrestricted gifts "to advance the university for a variety of purposes," Seuferling said.

A big majority of gifts to the Endowment come with specific instructions for their use, but some donors give money that the Endowment can use for any purpose at KU, with the approval of the Executive Committee of its Board of Trustees. Those go into the Greater KU Fund.

For the current fiscal year, which ends a week from today, donors have made 2,921 unrestricted gifts to the Endowment totaling about $2.3 million (an average of $800 per gift), according to numbers that Seuferling shared. The totals for restricted gifts are much higher: 80,576 gifts that add up to about $128.7 million, with an average gift of about $1,600.

For the coming year, around $151,000 of the chancellor's salary will come from the unrestricted fund. Over time, Seuferling said, the Regents have asked for privately funded increases to the chancellor's salary that exceed the amount available each year from the fund established by Oswald's donation. Those increases require approval from the Endowment's Executive Committee.

So, in sum, here's how the chancellor's salary will break down, roughly: $272,000 from state funds; $70,000 from the Endowment fund created to pay some of the chancellor's salary; and $151,000 from the Endowment's unrestricted fund.

Gray-Little's new base salary of $492,650, by the way, would rank 34th among public university leaders in the most recent survey on that subject published by the Chronicle of Higher Education (though that survey was for the 2012 fiscal year, and she'll make that salary in the 2014 fiscal year, so obviously other leaders' pay may have increased since then, as well). Her then-base pay of about $429,000 ranked 60th in the survey for that year. (Overall, she was the 86th highest-paid executive on the list, but that includes retirement and severance payouts, among other factors.)

The Regents said the raises for Gray-Little and the other leaders were designed to make their pay more competitive nationally, and this one would appear to do that.

I'm sorry if you didn't expect your Monday to include so much math. I'll stop throwing so many numbers at you, but only if you send me a KU news tip to divert my attention. Send 'em to

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    How the center of the KU campus has moved over 140-plus years

    I don't know about you, but I've read just about enough words for today, so this blog entry will be a mostly visual one.

    For our KU Today edition (coming in August!) I'm learning right now about the process of forming KU's new master plan, a map for how the KU campus might change over the next 10 to 15 years. KU is paying a planning firm about $1.2 million to go through the process, and folks at KU and the firm, as well as a variety of subcontractors, are poring over a wealth of information.

    Jim Modig, KU's director of Design and Construction Management, shared some of that stuff with me last week. And I thought I'd share one piece of that with you: these maps that show in a simple but interesting way how much KU's campus has changed over the past 140-plus years.

    Each one includes the boundaries of the campus, shown in blue, at a certain point in time, laid over a current-day map. Modig wasn't immediately able to fill me in on exactly what year each of these maps corresponds with, so I've included some rough guesses based on when buildings were built.

    In each one, pay attention to where the red "plus" sign falls. That's the campus's geographical center. And as you'll see, it's moved a lot over the years.

    When the first KU buildings were built in the late 1800s, the center (and the entire campus, really) was in the northeast, where Corbin and GSP residence halls are now:

    The beginning.

    The beginning. by Matt Erickson

    In this map, which must be from around 1900, you can see things moving toward the south:

    Somewhere around 1900.

    Somewhere around 1900. by Matt Erickson

    By this time — the 1920s or '30s, as far as I can tell — the campus still only stretched southward to Jayhawk Boulevard:

    The '20s or '30s, I think

    The '20s or '30s, I think by Matt Erickson

    Next is one from, I think, around 1950. Now the center was right on the current site of Wescoe Hall:

    No Allen Fieldhouse yet.

    No Allen Fieldhouse yet. by Matt Erickson

    By what seems to be sometime in the 1960s, the center was near Murphy Hall, on a part of the campus that didn't exist 30 or 40 years earlier:

    Still no West Campus.

    Still no West Campus. by Matt Erickson

    And now, with the addition of KU's West Campus, the center is near the Burge Union and the nearby athletic complex:


    Today. by Matt Erickson

    And officials project it to continue to shift to the southwest as more development happens on the West Campus, where space is much more plentiful. And this is why this exercise is important for the master planners. The campus's center is nearing Iowa Street — and that's a point where, right now, it's pretty tough to cross from one side of the campus to the other by foot. That's not exactly ideal, so one of the problems the planners are considering is how to do more to merge the two campuses into one.

    That's quite the obstacle they have to overcome. But for you, it's an excuse to look at some pictures late in the afternoon. Thank me by sending a KU news tip to

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    Student residents forced out of KU apartment building because of drought-related damage

    Sometimes we reporter types want to try to dig up more information than we can get by just dialing a phone number or clicking a mouse three, or even four, times.

    One of those times happened last month. I heard from a KU graduate student who'd had to move out of his home in the on-campus Stouffer Place apartment complex, along with his wife and two daughters, because of safety concerns about the building. He'd been told the building had developed some structural problems because of the recent drought, and he wanted some assurance that the new Stouffer Place building into which his family had moved didn't have the same issues.

    He wanted to take a look at an engineering study on his building's problems, and make sure such problems hadn't been found elsewhere in the 25 buildings that make up Stouffer Place, a housing complex for couples, students with families and others.

    So we asked about it. I sent KU a Kansas Open Records Act request for documents related to any engineering studies done on Stouffer Place buildings since the beginning of 2012.

    Last week, I got my hands on the documents in question. And they show that an engineering study did indeed find some worrisome problems about this student's building, Building No. 20, and no studies had found any structural problems with any other buildings.

    The report said the building had settled because of the dried-out soil underneath, caused by the drought and a nearby tree that sucked up what little moisture was there. There were cracks in walls and gaps between the floor and the walls. The biggest structural concern, the report says, was a gap between the second floor and the north wall, which had moved about half an inch away from the rest of the building. It recommended several thousand dollars' worth of repairs.

    You can download the report here, in case you're curious. (It has some pictures.)

    This graduate student and other residents in the building were told they'd have to move while KU conducted repairs, according to some materials he shared.

    Jim Modig, KU's director of Design and Construction Management, said a few buildings here and there had developed such problems because of the drought, but the problem wasn't "huge." If you've noticed any other campus buildings that have seemed to settle or shift a bit over the last year or two, though, let me know at

    And send in those KU news tips, too. I'd love to see them, no many how many mouse-clicks are required.

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    KU starting to feel decline in federal research dollars

    When I saw Steve Warren, KU's vice chancellor for research and graduate studies, at a groundbreaking event on Friday, I asked him about something that I figured is probably frequently in the back of his mind nowadays: how the federal budget sequester is affecting KU's millions in federal research funding.

    He said there's been one unfortunate piece of news: A government office called the Institute of Education Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Education, has indicated that it will simply stop awarding new research grants for the time being because of the federal budget cut.

    KU already has a number of active grants thru the IES, and those will continue to be funded as scheduled. But grants expire eventually, and Warren said it looks like no new funding will be available for now.

    Altogether, Warren said his best rough guess is that KU's federal research funding might decrease by about 5 percent for the 2013-14 year. KU gets more than $200 million per year, so that's a decrease of more than $10 million. And that would break a five-year streak of increasing federal research funding, Warren said.

    This could be a real blow to a lot of folks, from young faculty who crave grants and research opportunities so they can achieve tenure to graduate students who sometimes rely on outside funding sources to fund their education. And the competition will likely get stiffer for whatever grants remain available from the federal government, Warren said.

    Altogether, he said, it could be an "unpleasant" year, though he said KU would do whatever it could to shield faculty and students from the effects.

    Anyone out there at KU who's seeing the sequester affect his or her work up close? If so, let me know at And send in those KU news tips, too.

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    Professor killed in Oklahoma was former KU doctoral student

    Here's a piece of KU-related news that we'll present on its own, because it's quite sad.

    A Northeastern State University professor found dead in Tahlequah, Okla., at the end of May was just four years removed from earning her doctorate from KU.

    Tiffany Maher, 38, was an assistant professor of chemistry at NSU, and authorities say she was the victim of a homicide. She and four cats were found dead in her home after a fire that police say was arson. No arrests had been made in the case as of Friday.

    Maher studied at KU for five years before earning her Ph.D. in chemistry in 2009, and the Tulsa World extensively quoted her dissertation supervisor, associate professor Mikhail Barybin, in a story on the aftermath:

    "She was an extremely gifted teacher," he said. "I'd say she was probably a rare example of a graduate student who had equally impressive contributions in research, teaching and service to the community here in Lawrence.

    "She was very well-liked by the departmental faculty, her peers, graduate and undergraduate students - and she taught many of them. She has been a great mentor to the undergraduate students."

    The KU chemistry department will have a memorial service for Maher this weekend in Wescoe Hall, according to this note on its website.

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    KU links: A ‘Commendable Conduct Award’ for law school’s dean

    It's not even technically summer yet, but Heard on the Hill is already back from its summer vacation. Over the past couple of weeks, this blog worked on its tan, finally made time to read some of those books sitting on the shelf and made some blog friends at Blog Summer Camp with whom it sincerely plans to keep in touch.

    But enough about that. Here are a few KU tidbits from around the Internet to get you caught up:

    • The New York Times spoke with Jim Butler, a senior scientist at KU's Kansas Geological Survey, about the decreasing water levels in the High Plains Aquifer.

    • KU physicist Adrian Melott, who's frequently quoted on the subject of gamma-ray bursts, is at it again in this story from Forbes.

    • Wayne Sailor, a KU professor of special education, shared his thoughts on a new accessible parking symbol being adopted by New York City with the Chronicle of Higher Education.

    • A writer for The American Lawyer decided that Stephen Mazza, the dean of KU's School of Law, deserved a "Commendable Conduct Award" for the decision to reduce the school's class sizes after the legal job market took a serious tumble. (I'm not sure if this is a regular honor or one the columnist made up just for this occasion. Can I win one?)

    The law school's switch to smaller class sizes actually came shortly after Mazza became dean in 2011. The school's next graduating class, in May 2014, will be the first that was affected by the decision to reduce class sizes by about 20 percent. That might mean good things for the school's employment statistics, which already took a big jump for its class of 2012.

    • A lecture by KU's Shawn Alexander, an associate professor of African and African-American studies, will be broadcast on C-SPAN3 this coming weekend. It's part of the channel's "American History TV" weekend programming, for a program called "Lectures in History" that shows, well, lectures by professors about history. Alexander's lecture will be about the era between the end of slavery and the dawn of segregation in the United States. You can catch it at 7 and 11 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.

    Submit your KU news tips to and you could qualify for the Heard on the Hill Terrific Tipster Award, which is given out whenever I feel like it based on whatever criteria I might choose.

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    Clemson University hires KU professor to lead biology department

    Clemson University in South Carolina has hired away a professor in KU's molecular biosciences department, according to this Clemson news release.

    Robert Cohen, a professor of molecular biosciences at KU right now, will go to Clemson to become chairman of its biological sciences department. At Clemson, that's in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences.

    Cohen earned tenure at KU in 1996 and was promoted to full professor in 2005. Before that, according to the Clemson release, he was on the faculty at Columbia University in New York. He'll start at Clemson on July 1.

    A few facts about Clemson, since I went through the trouble of looking it up: It is not a member of the Association of American Universities as KU is, its endowment was less than half the size of KU's as of 2012 at about $483 million and it ranked No. 68 in the most recent U.S. News and World Report "Best Colleges" rankings to KU's No. 106.

    No word on the local campus blogging situation at Clemson, though if there are any blogs I'm sure their readers are not nearly as helpful as mine. You're so helpful you didn't even need me to butter you up like I just did there for you to send a KU news tip or two to

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    KU links: Retired prof discusses tornado safety; business dean in state Chamber video

    Summer, at least in KU school-year terms, is upon us. But we soldier on as normal here at Heard on the Hill, albeit a bit sunburned after Sunday's commencement ceremony. (Check out these photos if you'd like to re-live it.)

    In that spirit, here's your weekly-or-so collection of KU bits n' pieces from around the Internet:

    • After Monday's horrible tornado in Moore, Okla., NBC News talked with Joe Eagleman, a KU professor emeritus of physics and astronomy, about his research on the best practices when tornadoes threaten to hit schools or other large buildings.

    • The Hutchinson News noted that Neeli Bendapudi, the dean of KU's School of Business, was the lone academic official to appear in a recently produced promotional video for the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. She appeared alongside a number of business executives and Republican state lawmakers in speaking about the Chamber, whose political action committee spent a good deal of cash supporting conservative Republicans before the last round of state elections in November 2012. Bendapudi's comments in the video are not terribly political, though: She says the state Chamber and KU have a "shared goal" to promote business activity in Kansas. She told the News that she didn't intend to speak for the whole university, saying she "honestly did not think it through."

    • This story in The Atlantic about a "virtual worm" that could be used in biological research includes comments from Brian Ackley, an associate professor of molecular biosciences at KU.

    • The Wichita Eagle told the story last week of John Castellaw, who went through periods of homelessness as a child but graduated this month as the student body president at Wichita South High School. Castellaw is coming to KU in the fall, the story reports, with an eye on medical school. He's receiving a Hixson Opportunity Award, a KU scholarship for students from Kansas who've faced hardships.

    • Elizabeth Kronk, director of the KU School of Law's Tribal Law and Government Center, chimed in on this McClatchy story about Native American tribal laws on same-sex marriage.

    • David Ekerdt, director of the Gerontology Center at KU's Life Span Institute, wrote this post for The New York Times' "The New Old Age" blog, about an unusual possible gift for older parents on Mother's Day or Father's Day: an offer to help them unload some belongings.

    If you make that offer to your dad this Father's Day, why not also ask if you can take any KU news tips off his hands? Then you can send them to

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    KU chancellor’s pay ranks 86th among U.S. public university leaders

    KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was the 86th-highest-paid public university executive in 2011-12, according to a report published this week by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Her total compensation of just more than $475,000 was an increase of about 0.8 percent from the previous year.

    The Chronicle's report analyzed the total compensation for the chief executives at 191 different public universities and university systems around the country for the 2012 fiscal year — roughly equivalent to the 2011-12 academic year. Four different executives made more than $1 million during that year. (For perspective: 36 different executives at private universities topped the $1 million mark during the 2010 calendar year.)

    The highest-paid public-university executive for the year was Graham Spanier, who was fired in November 2011 as president at Pennsylvania State University because of "insufficient action" related to the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse allegations and now faces felony charges related to the Sandusky case. Under the circumstances, his big payday sounds pretty crazy, but it makes sense if you look at the details: Spanier had served in the job for 16 years, he was already the third-highest paid executive the year before and most of the $2.9 million he earned in 2011-12 came from severance and deferred compensation spelled out by his contract.

    Because the Chronicle analysis looks at total compensation and not just annual salaries, it includes things such as severance, retirement payouts and deferred compensation packages. That's one reason there are some university leaders near the top of the list that seem to be head-scratchers. (Auburn? George Mason? Ball State?)

    Gray-Little received about $429,000 in base pay (ranking 60th nationally), according to the Chronicle, plus retirement pay and $25,000 in annual deferred compensation that she is to receive whenever she leaves the job. (UPDATE: As KU spokesman Jack Martin pointed out to me, some of that pay comes from private donations and not state funds. For the 2012 fiscal year, about $267,000 of Gray-Little's salary was paid by state funds.)

    Among the 10 institutions that KU leaders consider "peer universities," her compensation ranked seventh. Her pay ranked below that for former KU provost Richard Lariviere as president of the University of Oregon, but the bulk of his $485,000 in compensation came from a severance payment he received when he was fired. She ranked below two different Penn State presidents, because Rodney Erickson earned nearly $550,000 after he replaced Spanier.

    Other Kansas executives included in the report were Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz, who ranked 131st with about $396,000 in compensation; and Donald Beggs, who retired in June 2012 as president of Wichita State University and ranked 182nd with about $303,000.

    Gray-Little does receive one benefit that the Chronicle reports is not included in the numbers because it's tough to quantify: She lives in a university-owned home (and has a university-owned car). The KU chancellor's residence, known as the Outlook, is worth about $2.4 million, according to the Chronicle.

    Those salary numbers can be interesting to poke around in, though I probably need to pull myself away now. Help me do that by sending a KU news tip to

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    KU events this week: A whole lotta commencement, plus student art projects on display

    This is the space where we usually let you know what's going on at KU this week. But it's finals week at KU, and aside from tests the schedule is pretty light — well, except for the 40 or so commencement-related events going on starting tomorrow.

    If you're involved with any of those, though, you likely already know about it (I hope so, anyway).

    As for the big KU commencement ceremony, it's set for 10:30 a.m. Sunday. You can click that link to see scheduling details — and the procedure for announcing weather-related delays, if needed. (The National Weather Service is calling for likely showers and thunderstorms Sunday as of Wednesday morning.) I'll be there, so if you see a guy wandering around with a notepad, say hi.

    One event that I do have to share: Seniors in KU's department of visual art will exhibit some of their artwork starting Friday in the Art and Design Building on campus. The work will range from ceramics to painting to textiles to other media. The display will open with a reception (free for the public) from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Friday in the gallery and in room 421 of the Art and Design Building, and it will remain open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day from Saturday through Tuesday.

    If I missed anything else going on, beyond the avalanche of graduation-related festivities, add it in the comments below. And get those KU news tips to (bonus points if you submit them in the form of ceramics, paitings or textiles).

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