The Board of Trustees unanimously approved a pay raise and bonus for President E. Gordon Gee when they gathered Wednesday afternoon in the Ohio Union. Gee is donating back the bonus, contributing nearly $300,000 to university funds.
While economic downturn continues to limit pay increases for public-university leaders across the country, OSU’s Board still rewards top talent. “Members were consistently impressed with the President’s brilliant, inspiring, charismatic, and visionary leadership,” said Alex Shumate, chair of the committee of trusteeship for the Board.
Gee maintains his position as the highest paid public-university president in the United States. As a result of the evaluation process, he receives a 2 percent salary increase. Gee also received a 37 percent bonus for achieving target-level performance.
In presenting the evaluation, the Board highlighted such accomplishments as improved retention and graduation rates, an increase in research funding, opening the university’s China Gateway office in Shanghai, and streamlining financial processes.
“It is clear, based on President Gee’s achievements against the University’s strategic objectives, that he merits a maximum bonus for exceeding target performance,” Shumate said, “Without a doubt, we would unanimously choose him again as our President.”
Alex Swain, the undergraduate student on the Board of Trustees, echoed Shumate’s commentary.
“In times of uncertainty, Dr. Gee’s leadership and experience have provided the university with needed certainty,” Swain said in a prepared statement, “He is truly the best at what he does and we are lucky to have him here.”
Ohio taxpayers and student tuition dollars are not used to pay for Gee’s bonus, as it is funded through private giving
Gee’s 2008-2009 base salary was $802,125, while his total compensation package was nearly $1.6 million, according to a Chronicle of Higher Education survey. His salary includes deferred compensation, retirement pay, and a supplemental retirement plan. He receives a house from private sources and a car provided by the state.
In 2009, Gee was eligible for a bonus of $200,531. He forfeited the raise and instead donated the funds to the E. Gordon Gee Ohio State Scholarship Fund. Last year he also declined a 2.5 percent pay raise and donated $20,053 to the Students First, Students Now scholarship fund.
Gee said that he intends to contribute his bonus funds to his own scholarship fund, as well as to other strategic university initiatives. Before making the announcement Wednesday, Board members were not sure what Gee had decided to do with the expected raise.
Swain said she felt thankful due to the surprise of the donation.
“On behalf of all students, I would like to express my deepest gratitude for Dr. Gee’s generosity,” she said.
In expressing thankfulness, Gee said that announcing his decision was a joyful moment.
“I get such great joy from giving back to the students,” he said, “This is a great moment”.