After Hardin, State Pay Lists Improved

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Sep. 29, 2008 12:00 am  


(To view the list of the state's highest-paid employees, click here. An exclusive list of the highest-paid UAMS employees can be found here. Spreadsheet versions of the highest-paid state employees list and highest-paid UAMS employees are also available.)

The financial revelations that led to Lu Hardin's resignation as president of the University of Central Arkansas also accomplished this: Arkansans have a much better idea of what they are paying the presidents and chancellors of state-funded colleges and universities.

Arkansas Business' annual lists of the state's highest-paid employees are also more accurate as a result, since the UCA scandal revealed that information requests must be more inclusive and specific – and more persistent.

For instance, the University of Arkansas initially reported that Bobby Petrino, the first-year head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks football team, was paid $750,000 a year – a handsome salary but less than a third of the actual pay package revealed after another request.

Similarly, the first report of Razorbacks Basketball Coach John Pelphrey's compensation was $795,000. The second request turned up almost a half-million more dollars.

Arkansas Business has continued to segregate the highest-paid employees of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences into their own list in recognition of the much higher pay scale commanded by physicians. The UAMS list includes the 180 highest-paid employees, with total compensation ranging from $1.09 million for Dr. Robert Jaquiss, a pediatric cardiovascular surgeon, to $255,498 for Dr. Christopher Melton, an assistant professor of emergency medicine.

The other list includes the 140 highest-paid employees of any other state agency or institution, ranging from Petrino's $2.76 million down to Reed Greenwood's $159,557 salary as the UA's dean of education.

Unlike previous lists, the lists that appear here and here include bonuses, longevity pay, private foundation contributions and housing and vehicles that are either provided or paid for by the state.

The specific pay packages for presidents and chancellors of the state's colleges and universities were released by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education in July after a request from the Legislative Council. The request was prompted by the revelation that Hardin had received a $300,000 bonus awarded secretly by the UCA Board of Trustees in May, even as the trustees froze salaries for the rest of the faculty and raised tuition by 5 percent.

But so devilish are the details that revised data were released in August, and those are the numbers Arkansas Business used. By either accounting, the presidents and chancellors are far better paid than previously reported. On last year's list, the highest-paid state employee (outside UAMS) who wasn't a coach at the UA was Vijay K. Varadan, UA distinguished professor of electrical engineering, at No. 7. This year, despite a raise of more than $5,500, Varadan is No. 13 and trails five university heads.

B. Alan Sugg, president of the University of Arkansas System, has a pay package worth $538,722, some of which may not be taxable income; the "total compensation" published in last year's Arkansas Business list was $283,500.



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