The University Record, February 25, 1997

Bollinger addresses EO compensation issues

 

The complete text of the president's memo.

 

Regent Rebecca McGowan greets President Bollinger before his first official meeting with the Board of Regents last week.

Photo by Bob Kalmbach


By Jane R. Elgass

President Lee C. Bollinger last week received the endorsement of the Board of Regents on a policy for executive officer compensation.

His recommendations, in the form of a memo to Board members and discussion at the meeting, address the difficulties of finding the best possible persons for executive positions and the confusion between leaves for non-faculty administrators and sabbaticals for faculty administrators returning to teaching and research.

The new policy stems from controversial private contracts with several executive officers made by former President James J. Duderstadt before he left office last summer.

Bollinger feels that the U-M must compensate its upper-level officials at the going market rate among the nation's best universities in order to remain competitive in attracting top candidates to such positions. "If we want the very best, we must be prepared to pay," he said.

The president noted that there are a number of ways in which individuals can be compensated, but as much as possible he prefers to use salary. Other forms of compensation "are too easy for people to misunderstand," he said, although he reserves the right to use additional options on rare occasions if necessary.

Addressing the concept of leaves, Bollinger noted that "it is too easy for those outside the academic world to see sabbaticals as paid time off, when in fact faculty work just as hard or harder" during that time on the development and completion of their research and in preparation for teaching.

Such leaves are appropriate for faculty administrators, who may need the time to get back to teaching and research. The president said it would be a "disincentive" to eliminate accrued

sabbatical time for these individuals, but did limit the time to a maximum of one year.

However, Bollinger said, there would be no paid leaves granted to non-faculty administrators when they leave their posts. Instead, they would be entitled to a "notice of termination," generally up to six months.

Bollinger also said that executive officers appointed by him would serve "at the pleasure of the president" with regular performance reviews, rather than under contract for a specified period of time. He assured Regents that he will discuss with the Board all contracts and annual salary increases for executive officers before they are executed.

In response to a question by Regent Rebecca McGowan, the president noted that to the extent that details of specific agreements are considered public information under the Freedom of Information Act, the University should be proactive in making this information public.

Regent Shirley McFee noted that it will be important in coming months that candidates for executive positions who might be coming from the private world "understand that the privacy of their lives will not be the same."

Regent Daniel Horning complimented the president's recommendations, saying they "will put a harness around furloughs and leaves. We owe it to the people to have a standing policy."