After Hardin, State Pay Lists Improved

 

(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.

Hardin, who is officially on sabbatical from UCA until the current fiscal year ends on June 30, is No. 4 on the list of state employees with total compensation of $508,540. However, his resignation – announced Aug. 28 – is accompanied by a buyout worth almost $700,000.

The man who has taken over Hardin's duties, Interim President Tom Courtway, isn't even on the list. UCA confirmed that his salary has not been raised from the $133,200 he was paid as general counsel and director of governmental relations.

Courtway has one new perk: "He does now have a Dodge Intrepid that was from the UCA motor pool," said Rita Fleming, associate vice president and associate general counsel.

Reading the Lists

This year's lists are more heavily footnoted than in the past, another indication of how complicated a complete accounting of state pay can be. Both the UAMS list and the general state employees list break down total compensation into three categories: salary, other public compensation and other private compensation. The general state employees list also indicates – yes or no – whether the individual's compensation package includes either housing or a vehicle. In some cases, as for Sugg and Hardin, housing is actually provided; for others it may mean additional pay as a housing allowance. The same is true of vehicles; some employees are actually provided with cars while some get an allowance.

Most of the coaches employed by the University of Arkansas are given the use of complimentary cars by local dealerships. The estimated taxable value of those "comp" cars is listed as "other private compensation."

A notable exception is Willy Robinson, the Razorbacks' defensive coordinator, and No. 12 on the state employees' list. He declined the use of a comp car, according to Don Pederson, vice chancellor of finance and administration (and No. 55 on the list).

Most of the UAMS employees on the list are eligible for performance bonuses, but they are paid after the end of the fiscal year in which they are earned. Therefore, the "total compensation" figure on the UAMS list includes the current year's salary and any bonus paid for last year's performance. Some employees also receive private salary supplements from the UAMS Foundation, according to Leslie Welch Taylor, associate vice chancellor for communication and marketing.

Points of Interest

• Bobby Petrino's brother, Paul Vincent Petrino, offensive coordinator for the Razorbacks, is No. 9 on the list of highest-paid state employees with a $300,000 salary and a comp car valued at $14,143 per year. That's about the same as his predecessor, David Lee, was paid last year.

• On Sept. 19, the UA Board of Trustees bumped up the salaries of several employees. One of the biggest raises went to Beverly Rouse Lewis, director of women's athletics (although gender has been removed from athletic titles). Her salary went from $220,000 to $300,000. She also drives a comp car valued at $8,250 a year.