Education

Regents planning midyear performance evaluations of university presidents

All asked for private meetings

University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld addresses a tuition task force Aug. 14, 2017, in the Biology Building East in Iowa City. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld addresses a tuition task force Aug. 14, 2017, in the Biology Building East in Iowa City. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Iowa’s Board of Regents next week will conduct midyear performance evaluations in private of the board’s executive director and the presidents of the universities and special schools it oversees.

The state’s open meetings law lets public entities meet behind closed doors to evaluate professional competency, performance and related issues if the individuals being evaluated request closed sessions.

The board’s four institutional heads and Executive Director Mark Braun all requested private evaluations in writing, using a board form letter, according to documents.

If the regents decide to amend any of their executives’ compensation, they’ll have to approve the changes in public. The board has approved few presidential pay raises in recent years as regents struggled to deal with state funding cuts.

University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook and Braun were the last heads to receive pay increases — or at least the opportunity for such — in the form of new deferred compensation incentives.

Nook, hired in 2016, after his performance review last summer received a two-year deferred compensation plan beginning July 1, with an initial contribution of $50,000 and annual ones of $75,000.

The plan, his first since he was hired, could net Nook a $200,000 payout in 2020. His base pay remains set at the $357,110 he started with.

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The board over the summer similarly approved a two-year deferred compensation plan for Braun, accumulating annual contributions of $75,000. Braun’s deal could net him a $150,000 payout in 2020 — adding to a compensation matrix the board approved at his hire to avoid a state-imposed salary cap for the position of 154,300.

Braun was earning a base pay of $240,000 as the board’s chief operating officer before his appointment to executive director in fall 2017.

In addition to the base rate for his new job, Braun received a $185,000 bonus to be paid over the first 18 months of his three-year contract.

He also received a performance incentive of $35,000 to be paid out in the coming summer.

University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld’s base pay of $590,000 hasn’t budged since his hire in September 2015, when he received a deferred compensation package worth $1 million to be paid out in 2020. That’s when his five-year contract expires.

Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen became the school’s first female president in October 2017 — giving her just one full year on the job. At her hire, she received a somewhat uncommon five-year deal that includes built-in raises.

Her base pay of $525,000 in the first year was to increase to $550,000 in the second year and then $590,000 in the third year.

Wintersteen, too, received a deferred compensation package worth $475,000. That, too, was different from her predecessors in that it pays out after three years — before her contract expires.

Harreld and former ISU President Steven Leath in recent years had gone into performance evaluations requesting no raises in light of continuing state de-appropriations, tuition increases and cost-cutting measures.

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