New Names Join State's Big Paycheck Club

Click here for page 1 of the highest-paid Arkansas employees.
Click here for page 2 of the highest-paid Arkansas employees.
Click here for page 3 of the highest-paid Arkansas employees.
Click here for page 1 of the highest-paid UAMS employees.

Click here for page 2 of the highest-paid UAMS employees.
Click here for page 3 of the highest-paid UAMS employees.
Click here for page 4 of the highest-paid UAMS employees.

Also: Click to download the spreadsheet version of the state employees list and the UAMS list.

Membership in the $1 million club of state employees doubled with the arrival of a new surgeon in Little Rock.

Dr. Robert "Jake" Jaquiss came to Arkansas as the new director of pediatric cardiovascular surgery at Arkansas Children's Hospital and professor of surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine.

He joins Houston Nutt, head football coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks, as the only two employees who receive a state paycheck as part of an annual compensation package of $1 million or more.

With total compensation of nearly $1.04 million (and more from outside sources), Nutt remains atop the list of highest-paid state employees, a list dominated by bureaucrats and academics.

Jaquiss tops the chart of UAMS employees, who are split out separately from other state employees because of the concentration of medical doctors and their corresponding large salaries.

A potential $500,000 performance bonus for Jaquiss combined with his base salary of $500,000 creates a total compensation package of seven figures.

As one pigskin pundit observed, performance measured by wins and losses had no apparent bearing on Nutt's compensation other than keeping it flat. Nor did the hiring of an offensive coordinator, a role Nutt filled during his previous eight seasons as head coach of the Hogs.

Nutt's pay is split between a state check of $329,644 and $710,000 in endorsements, media deals and other money funneled through the Razorback Foundation, aka Hog Boosters Inc.

Gus Malzahn, the new offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach for the Razorbacks, joins the roster of highest-paid state employees at No. 46. His total compensation is built on a base salary of $150,000 plus $25,000 in other compensation.

That package is more than twice what Malzahn was making at his former job as the athletic director and head football coach at Springdale High School during 2001-05, winning a state championship and national acclaim in 2005.

Before entering the collegiate circuit, Malzahn began his coaching career in 1991 as defensive coordinator at Hughes High School (St. Francis County). He served as head football coach during 1992-95 and took the team to the state finals in 1994.

From 1996-2000, Malzahn worked as head coach at Shiloh Christian School in Springdale, winning back-to-back state championships in 1998 and 1999. Razorback fans hope his track record of offensive prowess on the Friday night gridiron will translate into more touchdowns and wins on Saturday.

Jaquiss comes to Little Rock by way of Milwaukee, where he was an associate professor of sur-gery and the senior cardiothoracic attending physician at the Medical Col-lege of Wisconsin.

Chief among his surgical interests are neonatal cardiac surgery, pediatric cardiac surgery, transplantation and care of adults with congenital heart disease.

"Dr. Jaquiss is recognized as a national leader in congenital heart disease surgery, and we are excited to have him on board," said Dr. Michael Edwards, who helped lead the UAMS search committee.

Jaquiss filled the post left vacant by the suicide in December 2004 of Dr. Jonathan Drummond-Webb, the first non-coach to pull down a base salary of more than $500,000 when he was hired in 2000. UAMS spokewoman Leslie Welch said Jaquiss was likely to receive the full $500,000 bonus amount for the current fiscal year. Last year Jaquiss, who joined UAMS on Nov. 1, received a prorated bonus of 381,634.

Two other UAMS doctors topped the half-million-dollar mark in this year's list: Michael Edwards, chairman of the surgery department, $535,819, and Ossama Al-Mefty, chairman of the neurosurgery department, $515,172.

Several UAMS surgeons, including Al-Mefty, are eligible for bonuses, but those bonuses are not guaranteed and do not approach the level of Jaquiss', Welch said. Al-Mefty's, for instance, could be slightly over $100,000, she said.

A few other UAMS employees also receive bonuses: John Blohm, vice chancellor for development; Melony Goodhand, vice chancellor for finance; Ronald Winters, dean of health professions; and Leo Gehring Jr., vice chancellor of campus operations.

Besides the three UAMS doctors, the only state employees to receive total compensation above $500,000 are Nutt and Stan Heath, head Razorback basketball coach. Heath's financial package adds up to $752,343.

This past season was viewed by some Hog watchers as pivotal to Heath's continued employment at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

The team went on a late season run this year that led the Razorbacks to their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2001, a return tainted by a gut-wrenching, first-round upset loss to Bucknell.

In all, 20 state employees with athletic-related jobs numbered among this year's list of 201 highest-paid non-UAMS personnel. Of the top 10 positions, six are under the athletic banner, and all are at the flagship school of the University of Arkansas system.

Joining Nutt and Heath in Fayetteville are Reggie Herring, defensive coordinator for the football team, $300,000 at No. 3; Dave Van Horn, head baseball coach, $285,000 at No. 5; Susanne Gardner, head women's basketball coach, $278,000 at No. 6; and Frank Broyles, athletics director, $276,280 at No. 7.

The balance of the top 10 is populated by teachers and administrators also all affiliated with the University of Arkansas. The top-ranked academic is No. 4 Vijay Varadan, distinguished professor of electrical engineering and director of the UA's High Density Electronics Center (HiDec), with total compensation of $287,000.

Rounding out the top tier is B. Alan Sugg, UA system president, $275,000 at No. 8; John White, chancellor, $265,000 at No. 9; and Dan Worrell, dean of the Walton College of Business, $254,000 at No. 10.

UA spokesman Steve Voorhies reported that White's compensation package also includes country club membership fees, an amount that varies between $569 and $740 a month depending on his activities.

The most highly paid state employee who isn't employed by a university is Ken James, commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Education. (The list reflects his title as director, in keeping with the titles of most other state department heads, but the department refers to him as commissioner.) His salary of $208,599 places him at No. 23 on the list of state employees.

When James was lured back to Arkansas, where he had been superintendent of the Little Rock School District, in late 2004, Gov. Mike Huckabee solicited private funds to supplement the statutory limit of $119,700 to match the $195,000 that James was earning as superintendent of schools in Lexington, Ky. The legislature subsequently upped his salary and authorized James to pay other Department of Education employees up to $125,000 — still not enough to make the list.

The highest-paid state employees list ranges from Nutt's $1.04 million to a two-way tie at $130,000. The list represents total combined compensation of nearly $34 million and an average of more than $169,000.

The highest-paid UAMS employees list contains 260 names with total compensation of more than $62.3 million and an average of almost $240,000. Individual total compensation among the UAMS staffers on the list ranges from $1 million to $178,235.