Education

University of Iowa coaches, surgeons again top state pay list

More than 60,000 state employees in fiscal 2015

Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz watches his team during an open practice at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines on Saturday, April 11, 2015. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz watches his team during an open practice at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines on Saturday, April 11, 2015. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — More than $20 million — a good chunk of the state's $3.2 billion payroll — was paid last year to 16 employees who work within about a square mile of each other on Iowa City's west side.

University of Iowa coaches, doctors and hospital administrators are again Iowa's highest-paid state employees with Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz topping the list at a $3.95 million total salary in the year that ended June 30, according to the state salary database released this week by the Iowa Department of Administrative Services.

Right behind Ferentz was Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State University's former basketball coach, paid $2.13 million in fiscal 2015 before he left in June to coach the Chicago Bulls, and ISU Head Football Coach Paul Rhoads, at $1.85 million.

Two other non-UI employees made the top 20 list with ISU President Steven Leath pulling down $835,461 last year and University of Northern Iowa Head Basketball Coach Ben Jacobson making $795,000.

Leath's pay includes his $500,000 base salary, a $320,461 one-time deferred compensation payout and a $15,000 car allowance, ISU reported.

More than 60,130 full-time and part-time employees worked for the state in fiscal 2015, with more than half employed by the UI, ISU and UNI. The median statewide salary for the public employees last year was $49,367, with the median men's salary $4,859 higher than that for women.

About 2,500 state employees work in Linn County, with 1,500 of those on the UI payroll. The median salary for Linn County state employees was $50,368 and the highest paid state employee from Linn County was Vincent Reid, director of surgical oncology at UIHC, at $556,861.

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Surgeons and other physicians are typically at the top of the state salary list, with many being paid in part with private money.

Peter Gruber, a cardiothoracic surgeon hired in January 2014, was paid $460,047 for working six months of that year. His total compensation for FY15 was $1.2 million, which includes a base salary of $672,000 and $532,992 extra for serving as department chair, UIHC reported.

Database: Highest paid state employees in Iowa

Click to find out what state employees earned the most in 2015

Other UI doctors in the state's top 20 include Matthew Howard, a neurosurgeon, at $794,045; Joseph Turek, cardiothoracic surgeon, at $764,325; and Bruce Gantz, head of the department of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, at $709,159.

UI Head Men's Basketball Coach Fran McCaffery was paid $1.55 million last year, and Head Women's Basketball Coach Lisa Bluder made $795,776.

While other state employees get raises, Gov. Terry Branstad stays at $130,000.

This year, 2,397 state employees were paid more than the governor, compared with 2,294 last year at this time. Annual salaries paid to U.S. governors range from $179,000 in New York to $70,000 in Maine, according to data compiled by the Council on State Governments.

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