UConn’s new $227,500 PR guy – don’t worry taxpayers – parents & students are paying…

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Last week came the news, via Kathy Megan at the Hartford Courant, “The University of Connecticut has hired a new vice president of communications at an annual salary of $227,500.”

Okay, so some people were upset because with 171,000 Connecticut unemployed residents, not to mention the thousands of highly trained public relations professionals who work and live in Connecticut, UConn’s President wasn’t able to find a single qualified candidate for this new position and had to go out of state to hire her new communications person.

But the good news is that Connecticut’s taxpayers don’t have to pick up the tab for President Herbst’s new assistant.

But $227,000 plus benefits (which, thanks to the CTMirror we now know is more than the national average).

Not that long ago, the person who worked as UConn’s top PR guy was called the Director of Communications.  A promotion changed his job title to Assistant Vice President, then Associate Vice President and now President Susan Herbst has decided to grant the next guy the title of Vice President.

The long-time state employee, who was doing the job before, retired in 2009 with a salary in the range of $225,000.  He now collects a lifetime state pension of $114,000 (going up each year thanks to a cost of living adjustments.)

The next guy picked up the title of associate vice president and his salary jumped from $180,000 in 2010 to $203,000 in 2011.

Of course, in both cases, those amounts only reflect the base salary.  When you add in the cost of benefits, including health insurance, pension, etc., you increase the person’s total compensation package by about $45,000 or so.

Officially, the salary and compensation package for the outgoing associate vice president was $248,866.70 in 2011.

Now along comes Tysen Kendig, who will be leaving the University of Iowa, to join UConn as vice president for strategic communication.  His salary of $227,000 will be augmented by about $50,000 in benefits, putting him on the first rung of the ladder with a total compensation package of just over $275,000.

But before taxpayer’s start to yelp…you can rest assured that the burden for these growing costs will be paid for by UConn’s parents and students through tuition and fees and not by taxpayers.

Over the last 20 years, the State of Connecticut has been covering a smaller and smaller portion of the costs associated with running the University of Connecticut.

Back in the “old days,” when I was a state legislator, the state picked up about half the costs associated with UConn’s budget.  When Governor Malloy was done implementing the deepest cuts in Connecticut history to our public colleges and universities, the state’s share has dropped to 27 percent of the UConn Budget.

Now, about 73 percent of the money needed to run the University of Connecticut comes from tuition, fees, with smaller amounts coming from federal grants and some private fundraising.

This year, the State of Connecticut will send about $280.3 million in taxpayer funds to help cover the costs of running UConn.

However, UConn spends $565 million to pay the salary and benefits associated with the teachers, professionals and support staff that run the day to day operations of the $1 billion enterprise known as the University of Connecticut.

So when Susan Herbst and the UConn Board of Trustees decide that UConn needed a new $275,000 Vice President, the cost is NOT coming from taxpayers but from parents and students, who are already struggling to meet record high tuition costs.

You can read more about the story at the Courant:  http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-uconn-new-vice-president-20121119,0,1975413.story and at the CTMirror: http://ctmirror.org/blogs/new-uconn-spokesman-will-make-more-national-average

And Colin McEroe added to the discussion with a commentary piece that you can read here: http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/hc-op-mcenroe-uconn-administrators-salary-bloat-11-20121123,0,2362201.column

FOOTNOTE:  And for those left scratching their heads about this year’s $365 million deficit and the $1.1 billion shortfall next year, these key employment decisions must be approved by the UConn Board of Trustees.  Not only does the Governor appoint the Chairman and the majority of the members of the Board of Trustees, but Malloy’s Commissioners of Education, Agriculture and Economic Development are automatically members of the UConn Board.  Even more importantly, under Connecticut law, the Governor actually serves as the President of the Board of Trustees and has a personal representative attend all board meetings.

In fact, of the hundreds of boards and commissions in Connecticut, a sitting Governor has more control over the UConn Board of Trustees than he or she has over virtually any other government entity.