Mike Donoghue, Free Press Staff Writer. Original article: March 28, 2011.
The University of Vermont’s Faculty Senate Executive Council has given a thumbs down to outgoing president Dan Fogel’s spending decisions, particularly paying $320,000 to a new dean for the School of Business.
Fogel, however, on Monday defended the hiring as a worthy investment in the school’s future.
Faculty Senate leader professor James W. Burgmeier, in a letter to the UVM community, said Sanjay Sharma’s starting salary, which nears Fogel’s base salary of $322,563, is unacceptable in light of the financial conditions at the university.
“We thought it was a high salary both here, and when you look at business dean salaries, it’s high nationally,” Burgmeier said.
The statement cited the “the hiring of the School of Business dean at a salary clearly out of line with the funding levels of others at UVM and inappropriate given current financial circumstances. Specifically, we wish to clearly state and share our deep concern for the threats such conspicuous expenditures represent to our core academic mission.”
Such spending is taking money away from academics at UVM, the statement alleged.
Fogel and Provost Jane Knodell plan to meet with the Senate Executive Council on Wednesday morning. The president said Monday he did not want to debate the issue in the media before then.
“Of course I knew this would be vulnerable to criticism,” Fogel said. “I felt it was the right thing for the well being of the university; otherwise, I would not have done it.”
A comparison of national salaries shows Sharma’s salary is appropriate, said Fogel, 63, who announced last week that he would step down by July 1, 2012. Fogel said he expects Sharma will be well worth the investment with what UVM will get financially in return, not just in the Business School, but across the university.
UVM also hired Sharma’s wife, Pramodita Sharma, for the business school with a salary of $180,000 a year.
Burgmeier estimated Monday that with benefits, those two hirings would amount to about $700,000 in spending per year. The hirings came a week before the administration sent out an e-mail to faculty suggesting the possibility of freezing pay as a way to close a projected multi-million-dollar deficit, Burgmeier said.
Burgmeier said the 13-member council initially circulated the proposed statement among themselves and finalized it late last week during a face-to-face meeting with no objections. He said the council represents about 600 on-campus faculty members.