Next person in post will likely accrue rewards based on performance, not longevity, President Easter indicates
CHICAGO — A high-ranking University of Illinois administrator has received a $100,000 bonus as he leaves the state for a new job.
Dr. Joe G.N. "Skip" Garcia, the outgoing vice president for health affairs at the UI, oversaw the university's $1.2 billion health enterprise, including its hospital and medical schools. For staying through June 30, he was eligible for what's been described as a retention incentive. The money — $100,000 — was paid to him in July, The News-Gazette has learned.
As of Sept. 1, Garcia will be the new senior vice president for health sciences at the University of Arizona, the university announced on June 27. His last official day of employment with the UI is Saturday.
Garcia, whose annual salary was $805,863, was one of the highest paid employees at the UI, ahead of President Bob Easter but behind the basketball and football coaches on the Urbana-Champaign campus.
UI spokesman Tom Hardy said the retention bonus was part of the original employment agreement offered to Garcia in 2011.
"He obviously worked through the fiscal year, and the agreement provided for him to be paid this amount of money. He was entitled under the employment agreement to receive that," Hardy said.
The Office of Vice President for Health Affairs, which is now undergoing a review commissioned by Easter, was created in 2010 by then-President Michael Hogan. It was established as part of an administrative restructuring approved by the UI Board of Trustees. Hogan named Garcia, then vice chancellor for research on the Chicago campus, as interim vice president in February 2011 and offered him the position, along with the retention package, on a permanent basis that summer.
"It's not uncommon, historically, to have an incentive linked to staying," Easter said.
The UI's employment contracts with other vice presidents, such as in research and academic affairs, do not call for retention bonuses. But the contract of Chancellor Phyllis Wise (whose position also includes the title of vice president) calls for her to receive an extra $100,000 per year deferred if she stays in the job for five years. Easter's predecessor, Hogan, was eligible for retention bonuses totaling $225,000 upon completing five years in his role. When Hogan resigned in 2012 under faculty pressure, his revised employment agreement with the board allows for him to receive an extra $67,500 in 2015. The former president, who is teaching history at UI-Springfield this fall after taking a year-long sabbatical, forfeited $157,500 in other deferred compensation.
Retention bonuses for top officials are not uncommon at colleges and universities, but in recent years some institutions have phased them out and replaced them with performance-based bonuses.
Earlier this summer, when UI trustees extended Easter's contract by a year, they also approved a new strategy of rewarding the president based on how he meets goals set by him and the board.
"My sense is that is the direction the board would like to be headed — where the focus is not just on staying, but accomplishments," Easter said.
With the university poised to restructure oversight of its health affairs system, including the hospital and medical colleges, Easter indicated any extra compensation for the next health affairs leader could be tied to performance rather than how long he or she remains in the position.
"I think that office lends itself to" a performance bonus, he said, "meeting certain targets related to patient safety, quality of care, benchmarks that are standard for the industry."
A lung-disease specialist, Garcia also held an endowed professorship at UIC in medicine, pharmacology and bioengineering. Before joining the UI, Garcia chaired the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago and was director of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins University.
Jerry Bauman, dean of the UIC's College of Pharmacy, has been appointed interim vice president for health affairs effective Sept. 1.