Education

Iowa Board of Regents evaluating presidential performance at state universities

Board has skipped pay raises in recent years

(File photo) University of Iowa president Bruce Harreld speaks at a welcome reception for J. Brooks Jackson at the Paul W. Brechler Press Box at Kinnick Stadium at the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
(File photo) University of Iowa president Bruce Harreld speaks at a welcome reception for J. Brooks Jackson at the Paul W. Brechler Press Box at Kinnick Stadium at the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

The Board of Regents on Tuesday and Wednesday is meeting in private to evaluate the performance of its institutional heads — including its three university presidents and its board executive director.

The annual summer evaluations for years were followed by pay raises — although the board hasn’t upped presidential compensation in connection with the evaluations since summer of 2015, before any of the current top executives were on the job.

University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld, hired in September 2015 and now the most senior president reporting to the board, has been earning an annual salary of $590,000 since his hire.

His five-year contract comes with a $1 million deferred compensation to be paid out in 2020.

University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook has been earning $357,110 annually since he was hired in 2016 to succeed Bill Ruud. Nook’s three-year contract doesn’t include a deferred-compensation plan, although it allows the board to offer him one.

And Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen, who has been on the job only since October, after Steve Leath vacated the post last May, was given a unique contract — at least for Iowa’s regent system — that includes built-in raises.

Her five-year deal offers base compensation of $525,000 in the first year, $550,000 in the second year and $590,000 in the third year — bringing her on par with Harreld.

She received a deferred compensation package worth $475,000, also unique in that it pays out after three years, before the end of her contract.

Board of Regents Executive Director Mark Braun, hired in October, landed a contract increasing his pay above a state-imposed salary cap for the job of $154,300. He’ll receive a $185,000 incentive to be paid out over the first 18 months of his three-year contract — bringing him to 195,364 in eight months through the end of the current budget year.

For the full 2019 budget year, he’ll make $246,800 in both base and incentive pay.

This week’s performance evaluations come as budgets are top of mind for the university heads, charged with responding to state de-appropriations after lawmakers cut Board of Regents general education support by more than $40 million since the start of the 2017 budget year.

The Legislature only recently halted the slide with an $8.3 million bump for the 2019 budget year that begins July 1. But Regent and campus officials have said it hardly makes up for the massive cuts.

University presidents following recent performance evaluations have requested no salary increases — as they’ve been calling for higher tuition and imposing faculty pay freezes. Iowa State enacted a pay freeze last year, and UI won’t raise pay this year until at least January.

Harreld also in April announced a five-month moratorium through September on new campus construction in hopes of absorbing the most recent $5.5 million midyear cut in state funding.

Although the evaluations happen in closed session, at the presidents’ requests, any action of their compensation would be done publicly in open session.

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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