Bobby Petrino Tops List of Highest-Paid State Employees

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Oct. 10, 2011 12:00 am  

The list of highest-paid state employees won't have the founding group of lottery executives to kick around anymore.

(Click here for a PDF list of the highest-paid state employees or here for a spreadsheet version available for purchase. Click here for a separate list of the highest-paid employees of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and here for that list's spreadsheet version.)

Even as the annual list was being prepared for press on Thursday, Ernestine Middleton, the lottery vice president of administration, was being fired by Interim Director Julie Baldridge.

Baldridge, meanwhile, had stepped into the void created by the departure last Monday - four days ahead of his original schedule - of Arkansas Lottery Director Ernie Passailaigue. Also on Monday, the lottery announced that its other vice president, David Barden, had resigned the previous Friday.

All three names are on the list of highest-paid state employees: Passailaigue at No. 11 with a $324,000 annual salary, and Barden and Middleton tied at No. 44 with $225,655.

The three had come together from South Carolina's state lottery, where they had worked for significantly lower salaries. It remains to be seen whether their replacements will rank nearly so high on future lists of state employee compensation.

As usual, Arkansas Business has divided the state employees into two lists: employees of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences at Little Rock and all other state agencies and institutions.

At the top of the UAMS list is Dr. Michiaki Imamura, the chief of pediatric and congenital cardiothoracic surgery for Arkansas Children's Hospital and a professor at UAMS. He was promoted to that position in September 2010, and he enjoyed a sizable raise as a result. His state salary went from $352,000 (plus a bonus of $122,500 in fiscal 2010) to $900,000.

Many of the physicians on staff at UAMS are eligible for bonuses at the June 30 end of each fiscal year. Our list combines the current year's salary and the bonus for the previous year, as well as any private grants, into a figure called total compensation. While Imamura's $900,000 base salary is the highest ever at UAMS, his predecessor, Dr. Robert Jaquiss, had a base salary of $500,000. But Jaquiss received a bonus of $600,000 in his last full year at UAMS, while Imamura's bonus was barely a fifth of that.

The published list of UAMS employees includes 155 names, ending with Dr. Taranjit S. Sangari, an assistant professor of anesthesiology, whose total compensation was just shy of $300,000. A Freedom of Information Act request for all UAMS employees with total annual compensation of $125,000 or more turned up 787 names. Of that total, 311 had total compensation of $200,000.

On the list of non-UAMS state employees, the University of Arkansas' head football coach, Bobby Petrino, remains at the top with a renegotiated compensation package worth $3.6 million this year. That includes salary of $1.9 million, a signing bonus of $500,000, $150,000 in deferred compensation, $800,000 a year for TV and radio work and a quarter of a million for speaking engagements. Most of it actually comes from private sources and none of it is considered state salary, according to UA documents.

The published list of non-UAMS employees ends at No. 119, Ronald Rardin, a distinguished professor of industrial engineering at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, whose state salary and other private compensation total just under $175,000.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.