Top DACC officials get contract extensions

Top DACC officials get contract extensions

DANVILLE — The Danville Area Community College board has approved new contracts for the college's top two administrators to prevent losing them due to pension reform.

Both President Alice Jacobs and Chief Academic Officer Dave Kietzmann could face substantial losses to their future pension if they failed to retire by May 30.

However, "neither one of them wanted to retire yet," board Chairman David Harby said. "And we were in a unique situation having two longstanding employees. Losing them, especially at the same time, would have been devastating to the college."

The board extended Jacobs' contract three years and Kietzmann's two years.

Jacobs' new deal will run through June 30, 2017. Her old one was set to expire a year earlier.

Jacobs' current annual salary is $174,403. Under her new contract, she will receive a 3.75 percent raise each year.

Kietzmann's contract will run through June 30, 2016. Before then, his contract was renewed on an annual basis.

Kietzmann's current annual salary is $138,255. He'll receive a 2.75 increase each year under his new deal.

DACC trustees met in a special session on Saturday to address the potential effects of the pension reform legislation, passed about six months ago. Since then, Harby said officials have been working on a solution that would "serve the college's best interests and preserve the financial future on which these administrators were counting.

"We would think we had a workable solution, and then another official opinion would cancel it," he said.

The pension reform law had the potential to cause a flood of retirements in public higher education systems served by the State Universities Retirement System due to mandated changes to future retirement age, cost of living increases and reduced benefits and how the pension annuity is calculated.

Though a Sangamon County judge granted a stay last week, Harby pointed out it's not a permanent solution and a higher court could reverse the decision at any time. Furthermore, he said, it could be several years before a final resolution is reached due to legal wrangling.

"The board felt we needed to move on this issue despite the judge's stay," Harby said, adding it didn't want to base the college's future on one decision "when a much larger legal battle looms on the horizon.

"We want to make sure Dr. Jacobs and Mr. Kietzmann got credit for their final four salaries. The contracts helped clarify that," he said. "Our primary concern is the success of this institution. Preserving the continuity of this effective leadership team in order to ensure that success was the only solution."

Jacobs was appointed to her post in 1999. Kietzmann has been at the college since 1970 and in his current position since 1998.

During their leadership tenure, trustees said DACC has doubled the number of certificate and degree recipients; added expanded programs in nursing, health professions, wind energy, advanced manufacturing and performing arts; and partnered with area school districts to create the College Express dual credit program.

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