President Phillip Oldham accepted a five-year contract on March 29, worth $325,682 annually after an 8-1 vote to offer him the contract from the board of trustees a week earlier.
Oldham is in his sixth year as president of Tennessee Tech, but has yet to receive a contract offer until now. Before serving as president of the university, Oldham worked as the provost and senior vice chancellor of academic affairs at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
The contract comes in the midst of national controversy directed at Tech following the Fitzgerald Report, leading students, faculty and board members to be concerned for the timing of the offer.
Trustee Melissa Geist, who represents the faculty, voted against the contract proposal. Geist proposed amending the contract form five years to three, although it did not pass following a 5-4 vote.
“Year after year there have been budget cuts to our operations f university advancement, and I just don’t feel that this protects the university,” Geist said.
Chairman Tom Jones, Millard Oakley and Johnny Sites all expressed their confidence in Oldham during the meeting.
“This contract helps to bring stability to the board, the university and the president alike,” Jones said. “It helps us assert our authority and determine what will happen if either of us becomes unhappy.”
The contract includes opportunity to receive an increased salary based on yearly performance reviews, and fringe benefits include reimbursed of entertainment and travel expenses. Also, included in the contract are an $8,400 automobile allowance and a miscellaneous allowance of $5,000.
As it now stands, the university provides the president and their family with a place of residence, and they are required to live there.
President Oldham’s position is without tenure and solely at the will of the board. Oldham agrees that in the discretion of the board, it is possible to be reassigned to other full-time duties within the university, such as a professor of chemistry.
In the board decides to terminate the agreement without cause the university shall pay Oldham an amount equal to his final base salary as president times the number of years remaining in the agreement. Cause is defined in the contract through ten scenarios. The board may also suspend his pay pending any investigation relating to termination for cause.