Home » VT Digger » On video: Shumlin says UVM pay packages are “exorbitant”—VT Digger—08/12/2011

On video: Shumlin says UVM pay packages are “exorbitant”—VT Digger—08/12/2011

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Anne Galloway. Original article: August 12, 2011.


Gov. Peter Shumlin said Thursday he was “very angry” about the “exorbitant” severance packages the University of Vermont’s Board of Trustees gave to outgoing President Dan Fogel and Associate Vice President Michael Schultz, both of whom resigned in the wake of revelations about the “clearly inappropriate” behavior of Rachel Kahn-Fogel, the president’s wife and Schultz’s confidant.

“We’ve got to make sure that if people leave the university under difficult circumstances that taxpayers and the university doesn’t pay exorbitant sums of money as they go out the door,” Shumlin told reporters.

The governor said the board’s approval of the compensation packages, which include the continuation of large salaries, and perquisites such as college tuition reimbursements and housing allowances, are “inexcusable” at a time “when Vermonters are struggling to pay tuition.”

Fogel will receive $457,000 for the 17 months he’s on leave, in addition to a housing allowance of $21,600 and $12,963 for a car, plus a $20,000 wellness package, according to the Burlington Free Press. When he returns to join the English department, he will receive an annual salary of $195,000, or $80,000 more than his fellow professors.

Schultz, who tendered his resignation on Wednesday, will continue to receive his full salary of $155,000 a year, plus benefits, through next year. In addition, his severance package includes full tuition for his three children who are nearing college age, according to documents provided upon request by the university. The tuition remission will cover the cost of eight semesters at UVM for each of Schultz’s children.

“Both in the case of President Fogel and Michael Schulz, they both left under difficult circumstances, both left at their own choice,” Shumlin said. “They wouldn’t have left if circumstances hadn’t been what they were.”

Shumlin said he learned about the payouts through press reports. He said he wished he had asked about the compensation packages. “You know, live and learn,” Shumlin said.

The governor said the university needs to change its policies for employees who resign under dubious circumstances.

“I’ve heard their argument;  the contracts stipulate that when they’re resigning, we’ll change the contract, folks,” Shumlin continued. “It isn’t that tough. If you leave under good graces, clearly there should be compensation while you go on to another job that’s a norm in universities, but if you’re choosing to resign or you’re leaving because of actions most people wish hadn’t (happened), those provisions shouldn’t apply.”

When asked why he didn’t attend the trustee meetings as an honorary member of the board, Shumlin demurred. “I gotta tell you,  I’ve got my hands full running state government,” he said. “I don’t’ have time to run the university and do the job that’s in front of me, that I’m so privileged to have as governor.”

Shumlin also criticized the makeup of the board. In his view, lawmakers, who appropriate millions of dollars to the university and the state colleges, shouldn’t also serve as trustees on the boards of the state’s higher education institutions. Shumlin characterized that dual role as an inherent conflict of interest, and he said he would support Senate bill, S.71, which would eliminate legislators as members of the boards of trustees for the University of Vermont and the Vermont State Colleges. The bill was introduced in the last legislative session by Sens. Hinda Miller, Dick Sears, Tim Ashe and Peter Galbraith.

The governor said the state could come up with “creative ways” to allocate money to the university. When asked what he meant, Shumlin chose not to elaborate except to say the university needs to re-examine its priorities. “I think with new president it would be worth asking, how can we build parts of university that need strengthening?”

In an aside, Shumlin said he suggested to Fogel that he could put the university back in the “good graces” of Vermonters by creating a scholarship fund for Vermont students from part of his compensation. Shumlin said his proposal didn’t generate a favorable response.

Shumlin made the remarks at his weekly press conference, held this week in Burlington City Hall.

Comments

David Schein :
OBSCENE – these severence packages. I’m a Vermonter who earns $39,000 a year, with a kid who’s getting ready to go to college and I/we can’t afford instate tuition at UVM – the most expensive in-state tuition in the country for a state university. Meanwhile they are giving these extraordinarily well-paid administrators unbelievable perks as they leave in a cloud of mismanagement – Schultz, who was making 150K is getting free tuition for his three kids value app. $154,600 and Fogel who obviously was asleep at the wheel, $501,963 for 17 MONTHS OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Including a car and a $20,000 wellness package !!!!! Don’t these people realize how much we pay for our kids education and our own medical insurance?????? What is he going to do with $20,000 wellness package? These academic aristocrats are living in a dream of privilege ON OUR TAX MONEY and this should be stopped.

That money the tuition perks for Schultz and Fogels time off pay could provide half in-state tuition scholarships to 101 students. I hope the UVM board thinks about this.

David Feurzeig :
Good article and link. Here’s a clarification: you state that when Fogel returns to teaching English, he will receive $195,000, “or $80,000 more than his fellow professors.” That is, $80,000 more than the next most highly-paid English professor. There are Assistant Professors in English earning less than $55,000, or about a quarter of what Fogel will be paid. And many lecturers earn far less than that.

Ron Pulcer :
UVM Undergraduate Tuition: http://www.uvm.edu/~stdfinsv/?Page=undergrad-tuition.html&SM=tuitionsubmenu.html

Al Salzman :
Typical Shumlin blather in answer to why he did not attend UVM board meeting: “I gotta tell you, I’ve got my hands full running the state!” This is another indication that Shumlin keeps his distance from the concerns of working Vermonters. The first indication was the moral idiocy of his proposed social service budget cuts affecting the disabled and elderly rather than a surtax on the 190 million dollar windfall of the richest Vermonters. Hey, Governor, attending a meeting to try to prevent the looting of taxpayers money by mindless elitists, is part of your job and you flubbed it. Heaven save us all from ethically challenged politicos!

Bob Zeliff :
Shumlin, and most of the blogger here are correct. While Fogel did a very good job as president of UVM he has never been shy about wanting very generous compensation.

It is the Board and its compensation committee whose judgement I question.

What cuts in the UVM budget are they going to make to offset these gifts to a couple of people?

I would like to here Cioffi’s answer to this question.

we the State should take a look at the board membership. I know it is very large…likely too large to focus responsibility.

Ross Laffan :
Who are the legislators on the board of trustees and did they support the compensation package?

Dan Allen :
Yesterday, UVM professor Saleem Ali was on Vermont Public Radio, defending the high compensation for Dan Fogel, on the grounds that the high pay is needed to attract the talent we need. http://www.vpr.net/episode/51828/

I am glad Professor Ali put out a University-grade explanation of why Fogel should get all that money. We need to be able to view that side of issue. I give the professor credit for spelling it out.

Now that I have viewed Ali’s defense of Fogel’s money, I am extremely unimpressed by the case for Fogel getting all that money.

Ali’s argument basically is, “everyone else is paying out this big money, so UVM needs to pay out that money too.” That is part of the lie that has our country in such terrible economic condition. That is the exact same circular logic used by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont when it paid out $6 million to its departing CEO, which was reversed substantially by Vermont regulators.

I do not think it is worth parsing Professor Ali’s comments. I do think they are worth hearing, so we can better understand the wrong-minded forces driving the con game that has become the US economy.

Here again is the link: http://www.vpr.net/episode/51828/

Saleem Ali :
@Dan Allen

I realize this is a tough issue and in general I agree that income inequality is a serious problem but we need to tackle it at the root — at the corporate level.

As you note the Blue Cross Blue shield payment was also 20 times Fogel’s package.

So singling out UVM and Fogel is not dealing with the much larger problem with corporate compensation.

Fogel salary scale is about the same as an average lawyer or doctor and yet the responsibility is for managing an organization which is similar in size and dimensions to a corporation.

My only problem is one of scale and singling out university administrators when the corporate crew are the ones who deserve far greater censure and are at the root of the problem.

Kind regards

Saleem

Dan Allen :
Saleem wrote>>My only problem is one of scale and singling out university administrators when the corporate crew are the ones who deserve far greater censure and are at the root of the problem.<<

So your proposal is we forget about Fogel’s $400K paid vacation, so we can focus instead on people who are ripping off more? How about we focus on all the ripoffs?

I am not complaining about Fogel’s salary. My problem is with the big payout for him to do nothing for a year.

Using your logic, Fogel should get less than $150K per year, because the Vermont Governor gets only that amount. The Governor has as much or more responsibility than President of UVM.

You cannot justify a ripoff by saying it is less of a ripoff than the corporate guys get away with.

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