UConn president gets 11.4 percent raise [Greenwich Time]

December 30, 2014

Article as it appeared in the Greenwich Time

The University of Connecticut Board of Trustees really wants to keep Susan Herbst as president.

The trustees voted Monday to approve a new contract for Herbst through the summer of 2019.

The contract comes with an 11.4 percent raise to her base salary, bringing it to $585,000, with subsequent 5 percent increases through the end of the agreement.

On top of that, Herbst will get an annual performance award of $40,000 as of June 30, 2015; a $125,000 retention incentive upon completion of five years on May 30, 2016; a deferred compensation payment of $80,000 at the end of each contract year; and $38,000 toward a supplemental retirement plan.

Herbst also gets free housing at two locations — on the Storrs campus and in Hartford.

Tom Breen, a UConn spokesman, said the contract supersedes her original contract, which began in 2011 and was to expire in 2016. She initially earned $500,000 a year.

While Herbst’s salary increases, so does student tuition. This year, tuition went up by 6.5 percent, bringing the total for tuition, room and board to $24,834 for in-state students.

The increase is part of a four-year plan to increase the number of faculty at the state’s flagship university. Since the effort began, UConn has added more than 200 faculty members.

Herbst’s contract, Breen said, was based on the trustees’ review of her performance as president, the desire of the board for her to continue as president and her desire to remain at UConn.

The increase will be funded by the UConn Foundation, using its investment income. The foundation annually funded $145,000 of her original contract.

Going forward, the foundation will up its contribution to $300,000 annually, Breen said, meaning that $300,000 of the total value of her contract each year is funded with private dollars.

Breen said Herbst’s pay is in line with that of presidents at many other large public universities similar to UConn, and is below that of many private university presidents in the state.

Her salary and perks together add up to $743,000 in 2015. By comparison, John Lahey at Quinnipiac University raked in $3.9 million, $2.9 million of which represented the full value of his retirement plan in 2012, the latest year available.

Herbst’s take-home pay also is dwarfed by the income of UConn’s men’s and women’s basketball coaches. Kevin Ollie, the men’s coach, makes $3 million a year with his new contract. Geno Auriemma, the women’s coach, is set this year to make more than $2 million. In the case of both coaches, the salaries are not generated by tuition or tax revenues but by gate receipts, private fundraising, corporate partnerships and television/radio rights.

Herbst’s raise is well-deserved, said Larry McHugh, chairman of the UConn board.

“Herbst is an outstanding leader,” he said in a written statement. “She is a bold, decisive and innovative president whose most important priority has been and continues to be building the academic quality of the university on behalf of our students and the state of Connecticut.”

McHugh said the contract is also reflects the fact she is highly sought-after by other institutions.

“This contract makes it clear that the board would like for her to remain at UConn, and that she would like to stay,” McHugh said.

The trustees’ compensation committee began discussing the raise in the fall.

State Rep. Roberta Willis, D-Salisbury, co-chair of the Legislature’s Higher Education Committee, said Herbst is doing a wonderful job.

“It is a testament to her that the board of trustees is pleased with her performance. She is doing her job and we should expect nothing less,” Willis said.

Others were less thrilled.

“UConn President Herbst certainly knows her worth and must have signaled she was looking to move on,” said state Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, a ranking member of the Higher Education Committee. “I can understand why the board of trustees may have felt it necessary to sweeten the pot.”

Boucher called Herbst a talented professional who deserves to be well compensated.

Still, as state universities come under increasing scrutiny for executive pay, soaring student debt and tuition increases — and at a time the state is staring at a billion-dollar deficit — Boucher said the action “may feel like rubbing more salt in a wound.”

Herbst, in a written statement, responded to the raise by calling it an honor to be the president of UConn.

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with our board, the state’s leaders, faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters to ensure that UConn is the great university that Connecticut deserves,” she said.

Under Herbst, UConn has continued a growth that began long before her arrival. Beyond the increase in faculty, UConn has $1.5 billion to spend over the next decade on capital projects.

But not all has been rosy. This year, UConn agreed to pay out nearly $1.3 million to settle a lawsuit brought forward by five current or former students who said the university mishandled sexual-assault complaints.

In addressing the issue at a trustees’ meeting in 2013, Herbst angered the women when she called the charges against the university “astonishingly misguided and demonstrably untrue.”

Herbst later said the comments were taken out of context.