Killeen rewarded 'for leading'

Killeen rewarded 'for leading'

URBANA — Despite budget uncertainties, University of Illinois trustees enthusiastically endorsed performance bonuses for two top administrators Thursday, including $100,000 for President Tim Killeen.

UI Chicago Chancellor Michael Amiridis, who also just completed his first year at the UI, received a $75,000 performance bonus.

The money was the maximum amount allowed in their contracts, based on their progress toward predetermined goals.

The board decided several years ago to tie a portion of the president’s total pay to performance, based on mutually agreed-upon goals. Former UI President Robert Easter received three, from $90,000 to $180,000.

Board Chairman Edward McMillan said after the meeting that Killeen had met all of the goals in the nine areas outlined — from research output to enrollment gains to lobbying and fundraising — so he received 100 percent of the potential bonus.

“We reviewed those individually, and the unanimous consensus of the board was that he had accomplished the objectives,” he said. “If there would have been a shortfall in the performance, then that payout would have been something less than 100 percent.”

Officials had said Killeen’s financial stewardship during the state’s fiscal crisis and his advocacy in Springfield were key considerations in their evaluation.

The money is a one-time award, on top of his $600,000 annual salary, but he will be eligible for similar bonuses each year. Amiridis earns $400,000 a year.

Several trustees took time at the meeting to praise Killeen’s performance, and that of the three chancellors, during a tumultuous year for the university.

Killeen “has done everything that he has said he would do, and he has brought pride to the university,” Trustee Patricia Brown-Holmes said.

She said the administrators on all three campuses are people “who are willing to not complain, not throw darts, but to go out and figure out how to find a way to move forward and advance this entire system.”

Trustee Patrick Fitzgerald emphasized that Killeen’s award is “not a bonus. It’s something that’s earned.”

“At least from my perspective, he’s earned every dollar of it. When you look at the leadership he’s shown, the leadership shown by the chancellors this year ...  I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

Fitzgerald also noted that Killeen gave up a much larger retention bonus of $225,000.

“We are paying for performance, not for being around but for leading,” Fitzgerald said.

Still, the state budget stalemate has forced tens of millions of dollars in spending cuts at the university — $69 million at the Urbana campus alone over the past two years — and faculty and staff members have not received a general pay increase for two years.

McMillan said he hasn’t heard any criticism from legislators about the payments, saying they’ve been an option in the administrators’ contracts for a year.

“It’s not as if this an unplanned or unexpected recommendation,” he said.

Killeen said later he recognizes it might not be well-received. Executive compensation at a public university is “a fundamentally public thing” that should be scrutinized, he said.

“This process was built into my contract,” he said. “I do think pay-for-performance is appropriate for a board that seeks leadership that is accountable, (with) specific goals and objectives that are enumerated and defined ahead of time, and then assessed quantitatively in a robust process.”

Trustee Jill Smart, a former human relations executive, said she was impressed with the review process, calling it thorough and thoughtful, “not just checking the box and saying ‘yes.’”

Engineering Professor Harley Johnson, who chairs the finance and benefits committee for the University Senates Conference, said employees appreciate Killeen’s hard work and understand the difficult choices he’s faced given the state’s budget problems. They also know that he turned down the large retention bonus, and that his preformance bonus is much smaller than what campuswise staff raises would cost, Johnson said.

“But with a second year of no salary program, a lot of faculty and staff feel that we are being asked to carry a very big load to help the University — one that has helped us keep the University accessible by holding tuition flat over the last two years,” he said.

McMillan said the board recognizes that employees’ cost of living continues to rise and noted that Killeen is trying to find a way to fund a modest mid-year raise internally.

Killeen said he’s been meeting with the provosts and chancellors for several months on how to pay for it. A 2 percent raise costs the university about $27 million, and the system is “hundreds of millions dollars behind” where it would be in a normal state funding year.

Still, he said, “we need to reward people appropriately. We’ve got great people, we’ve got great outcomes, great student enrollment numbers.”

“I wish we could have done it in a logical order, right at the beginning of the fiscal year. We just weren’t able to pull it all together,” he said.

Killeen was visibly moved by the board’s comments and said he was pleased that trustees recognized the entire administrative team.

“It’s no coincidence we hired a group of leaders who led with integrity first,” Trustee Ricardo Estrada said. “They’ve also shown a significant amount of courage. The public doesn’t always see that. These are strong leaders who not only represent the university but the entire state very well. Any performance incentive has been well earned.”

Killeen’s overall compensation remains in the bottom half of the Big Ten, officials said.

Professor Bruce Rosenstock, president of the Campus Faculty Association, said the bonus “certainly raises questions” when other employees aren’t being similarly compensated. But he said “full transparency” about the justification for the bonus would put those questions to rest.

“I am confident that President Killeen in fact deserves a bonus, but at this critical time in our university’s history it seems appropriate that the Board of Trustees should give a full accounting to the citizens of the state about the basis upon which the bonus was offered,” he said.

The UI system marked a second year of record enrollment this fall, including the largest freshmen class ever  at the Urbana campus. The 10-day numbers:

77,703: On-campus students at the three universities, a 1.2% increase over fall 2015. Enrollment is expected to top 81,000 counting online and off-campus students.

44,880: On-campus enrollment at Urbana, up 1.8%, including 33,467 undergrads.

74.6%: In-state freshmen, up from 73.1% last year.

7,593: Freshmen at Urbana, breaking a 2005 record.

24,510: Urbana undergrads from Illinois, up 1.9%. Down: freshmen from other countries, now 13.8%.

9.8%: Increase in African-American enrollment at Urbana, to 1,961, or 5.8% of undergrads. Freshman number rose 15.2% to 548, 7.2% of entering class.

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Homeboy wrote on September 09, 2016 at 8:09 am

You shouldn't have to reward him for leading, it's a presidents job. That's like rewarding a laborer for working.

Bulldogmojo wrote on September 09, 2016 at 8:09 am


Wise was rewarded with tenure for NOT leading so there you have it.

Breaking news Killeen awarded for not being named in an ethics investigation...YET

IlliniBooster wrote on September 09, 2016 at 9:09 am

"...we just weren't able to pull it (raises) together" by the start of the fiscal year.  News flash.   The fiscal year starts on the same date every year so several plans should have been in place.  Secondly, most faculty and professional positions operate on a contract year that starts August 16.   The fiscal year argument makes no sense at all.