Three More Years of Wim-ter

After almost a year of deliberation and discussion, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously on June 11 to update President Wim Wiewel’s contract. Wiewel signed the contract after the meeting adjourned.

Though Wiewel asked not to receive a pay raise, the three-year contract stipulates a base salary of $260,700, paid by the state, and a supplemental salary of $141,000, paid by the PSU Foundation. He will also receive $138,300 in deferred compensation per year, which will go into the Oregon Public Universities Supplemental Retirement Plan.

The contract will also grant him a sabbatical year at the end of his three years, which will provide him with 100 percent pay and moving costs, so long as he returns as a faculty member at the end of his sabbatical.

If Wiewel leaves before he completes the full three years, his sabbatical pay will be pro-rated in accordance with how much of the contract he completes.

If Wiewel returns as a faculty member, he will also receive his $260,700 presidential salary, converted to a nine-month salary, which will be roughly $213,000. Scott Gallagher, the Director of Communications at University Communications, said in an email that the highest paid professor at PSU is Daniel Maier in the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science. He made $208,584 on a nine-month contract.

According to the Office of Institutional Research and Planning, the average salary for a full-time professor here is $104,673.

Board member Erica Bestpitch showed concern over the lack of parity with faculty salaries. “I value his academic contribution,” she said, “and understand that you would want to honor the fact that he’s been a president… At the same time the lack of parity is so striking to me.”

At the meeting, Chairman of the Board Pete Nickerson said he came up with the terms of the contract by comparing them to Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) periodicals and comparator institutions in the state.

Nickerson negotiated with Wiewel last year and brought Wiewel’s requests to the BOT executive committee on May 27. The committee voted unanimously to present the contract, with Wiewel’s asks for sabbatical and faculty salary, to the BOT.

Bestpitch asked Nickerson if Wiewel had been evaluated before the committee accepted his requested terms.

“From my perspective…doing a 360 [degree] evaluation prior to voting on implementing a contract would be the best course of action,” she said.

Nickerson said an evaluation had not been done.

“In the case of the president, we benchmarked against AGB and our peers in Oregon,” he said. “And while the terms are slightly different, they are not materially different than what the president at University of Oregon [receives]…or Ed Ray at Oregon State University has in his contract.”

Nickerson said that Ray receives a salary of $540,000 and Wiewel receives a salary of roughly $400,000. That number, however, does not include his deferred compensation.

Board member Maude Hines, a faculty member at PSU, raised concerns about Wiewel’s requested sabbatical terms, his post-presidency faculty pay and the adequacy of comparing PSU to UO and OSU, who both get more state funding per student.

Hines said, “I’m going to go on record as an advocate for high salaries for presidents… I think it’s a tough job and I would never want to do it.”

Though supportive of high presidential salaries, Hines said that she had questions about the logistics of what Wiewel was asking for.

“My questions have to do with the return to the faculty [salary] and with the sabbatical,” Hines said. “I will very likely be someone who is going to propose an amendment about the sabbatical being in accordance with the rest of the faculty…the terms of fiduciary responsibility, the reputation of the university, and the relationship of the president with the rest of [PSU] and the [BOT].”

The PSU-AAUP contract stipulates that faculty members may apply for sabbatical after six years of continuous full-time service for PSU. Those taking sabbatical earn a pro-rated salary depending on how many terms the sabbatical lasts. For example, a faculty member taking a three-term leave will earn 60 percent salary. The PSU-AAUP contract also stipulates that PSU contribute 6 percent of faculty members’ pay to Public Employees Retirement System or other retirement accounts. Wiewel’s deferred compensation is roughly 34 percent of his overall pay.

Student trustee Maria Carolina Gonzalez-Prats moved to raise Wiewel’s salary. She would rather, she said, he receive a raise “during the time that he’s in office versus when he’s returning as a faculty member.” The motion was rejected.

Board members discussed changing the terms of sabbatical and his post-presidency faculty compensation.

“We can pass the resolution,” Nickerson said of the proposed amendments. “That doesn’t mean he’ll sign the contract.”

Nickerson said he was doubtful Wiewel would accept the amendments. “I believe he would resign,” he said.

The amendments were voted down, and Wiewel’s contract was approved unanimously.

Wiewel signed the contract after the meeting and it went into effect on July 1. The contract expires in 2018.