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IOWA CITY — Iowa’s Board of Regents this week is meeting in person for the first time in the pandemic to, among other things, evaluate and set goals with its university presidents — including University of Iowa President-elect Barbara Wilson.
Because Wilson doesn’t officially begin her tenure as the 22nd UI president until July 15, her closed-door in-person meeting with the nine-member board Wednesday will focus on performance goals, according to regent spokesman Josh Lehman.
The board — including two new regents who joined May 1 — first will evaluate performance, set goals and discuss compensation Tuesday with University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook, Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen and board Executive Director Mark Braun.
In addition to Wilson, the board will meet Wednesday with Steve Gettel, superintendent for the board’s special schools — the Iowa School for the Deaf and Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
On Thursday, the board could take action in open session to amend its executives’ compensation packages — although it also could defer action until a later date.
The last time the board took such action was in June 2019. At that time, the board announced the following contract amendments:
- Then-UI President Bruce Harreld’s five-year contract, set to expire in 2020, was extended through 2023, with increased deferred compensation contributions of $400,000 annually between 2020 and 2023. The extension moved and amended Harreld’s deferred compensation payout from $1 million in 2020 to $2.33 million in 2023.
The board did not change Harreld’s base salary of $590,000, and he took a 50 percent pay cut in July 2020 to help with COVID losses — resulting in a $352,353 donation back to campus. Harreld last month forfeited his millions in deferred compensation by exiting his contract more than two years early.
- ISU President Wintersteen also didn’t see a pay raise in 2019 but — like Harreld — did agree to a contract extension through 2023. Wintersteen is earning an annual salary of $590,000, and her deferred compensation increase upped her payout to more than $1 million.
She too took a pay cut this year to help with COVID, trimming 10 percent from her annual salary.
- UNI President Nook in 2019 agreed to extend his contract through June 30, 2025, with an option to renew for two years through 2027.
His upped deferred compensation payout was supposed to top $700,000 — although he trimmed $42,110 from his salary this year to help with COVID and cut his annual $100,000 deferred compensation payments in half through June 30, 2022.
- Gettel in 2019 received a 2.1 percent pay raise to $196,828 annually — plus tens of thousands in performance incentives.
When Wilson in April was unveiled as the next UI president, regents offered her a five-year contract with an annual salary of $600,000 and a deferred compensation deal paying out $2 million in 2026.
Board president pro tem
The board Tuesday met briefly in open session to choose a president pro tem to replace Patty Cownie, who was reappointed to that role for a two-year term in May 2020 but whose six-year term on the board expired April 30, 2021.
The board unanimously chose Sherry Bates to succeed Cownie — praising her work as chair of the board’s UI Hospitals and Clinics committee.
“She was a wonderful mentor to learn the ropes and has a real heart for doing the work of the Board of Regents,” regent Nancy Boettger said in nominating Bates. “I also think that it’s really appropriate for the chair of the hospital portion of our enterprise to be pro tem. It’s a huge job.”
Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad appointed Bates to the board in December 2014 to fill the unexpired term of Nicole Carroll. Bates was reappointed in March 2017 to a term set to expire April 30, 2023.
Iowa Administrative Code stipulates a board president pro tem should step in as president if a vacancy occurs and that he or she should serve in the leadership role until a new president is elected.
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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