President Phil Oldham received a 2 percent raise and a $60,000 bonus from the board of trustees that rejected a proposal for more during a Sept. 18 meeting.
Oldham’s annual salary is currently $325,682. The raise will increase his salary to $332,195.64 beginning in 2019.
Trustee Barry Wilmore called the motion for the additional bonus, citing Oldham’s work in securing $4.2 million in state funds. The motion failed by a vote of 4-2-2.
Trustee Forrest Allard, the student representative on the board, said the raise and bonus is for Oldham’s performance. As the student representative, Allard is a nonvoting member of the board.
“Overall, we thought it was good enough to warrant a 2 percent increase,” Allard said. “The $60,000 bonus was largely due to his acquisition of funds. That allows us to keep investing in students every year.”
Wilmore said a more “fair” bonus would be 2.5 percent of the $4.2 million of $105,000 – $45,000 more than the approved bonus.
Melissa Geist, faculty representative on the board, opposed the increase in salary and bonus. She said other universities received the increase in funding, all the credit should not be given to Oldham.
She said the university is still in $250,000 in debt, which indicates a misuse of funds. She also noted the university is under investigation regarding a major research project.
“I look at it in a very different light,” Geist said. “Where would I be if we didn’t have that money? There are things and reasons why I cannot support that.”
Other trustees said they oppose and additional $45,000 but still support Oldham.
Allard reiterated the sentiment.
“It was no statement of any action towards the president or his capability,” Allard said. “My main concern was simply ensuring that we maintain a sense of budgetary responsibility.”
Board Chairman Tom Jones said he was torn on the decision, partially because of the public’s perception of the bonus.
“I agree a lot with Barry’s comments, and to go to $105,000 I don’t think is a stretch,” Jones said. “I am more cautious because of the perception I think the public and faculty would have about that.”
Oldham said he did not ask for the bonus.
“I appreciate the sentiments,” Oldham said. “I feel honored with the original motion. I feel a little uncomfortable even going that high.”
The motion failed on a 4-2-2 vote with Wilmore and trustee Johnny Stites voting yes. Trustees Geist, Theresa Vanhooser, Barbara Fleming and Rhedora Rose voted no. Jones and trustee Trudy Harper abstained.
The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 6.