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July 27, 2011

UVM Profs Rankled by President's Severance Package

Cashbag Well, that didn't take long: Today, the union representing more than 800 University of Vermont faculty criticized the pay package granted to outgoing president Dan Fogel.

In a letter to the UVM Board of Trustees, the faculty union said it was "dismayed and profoundly disappointed by the compensation package provided to President Fogel, as he steps down from the UVM presidency."

Fogel announced last week he was stepping down from the presidency a year early due to "deeply personal reasons," largely stemming from an internal UVM investigation focusing on his wife, Rachel Kahn-Fogel, who was found to have had a six-year emotional relationship with a key UVM fundraiser and had tense relations with other top executives.

Fogel's last day is July 31. This week, UVM trustees named former provost John Bramley as the interim president. His first day of work is August 1.

As detailed in this week's "Fair Game," the decision by Fogel to leave UVM will cost the university plenty in terms of a severance package, the hiring of an interim president and the search for a new, permanent president. In all, UVM will shell out about $1.26 million to cover these costs.

Fogel's 17-month leave of absence alone will cost the university more than $600,000. However, it's worth noting that UVM had agreed — as part of Fogel's original contract — to fully pay him for a one-year leave of absence whenever he stepped down. The added cost due to his early retirement is an additional five months of salary and benefits, which includes an $1800-per-month housing allowance, a car allowance, deferred compensation and health care benefits.

Fogel will be paid through the end of 2012. In January 2013 he is scheduled to join the UVM English department as a professor. For that his salary will be $195,000.

Bramley will be paid $320,500 to assume the role of interim president, and UVM has set aside $320,000 to find a new president.

In the letter to the trustees, the union added, "It is disrespectful of UVM's non-represented staff, who have been told they will receive no salary increase next year, as well as UVM's service and maintenance staff represented by UE, who have gone to impasse over the administration's paltry [one half of one percent increase in] salary offering." The letter was signed by David Shiman, president of United Academics.

The union was also critical of Fogel's pay when he returns to UVM as a professor, claiming $195,000 is out of line with salaries paid to comparable faculty.

"His salary will be $80,000 more than the best-paid faculty member in his future department, English, and $60,000 more than the highest-paid humanities faculty member, someone who has taught at UVM for over 40 years," the union noted in its letter.

The union asked UVM's Board of  Trustees to consider some alternatives and cut portions of Fogel's severance package in light of UVM budget pressures in order to hire more faculty members within the humanities.

"The Board of Trustees and President Fogel could send a positive message to the university and larger community by revising the compensation package so that it is still respectful of our retiring president without showing such disregard for the values of our university and disrespect to the people who carry out its missions," the letter concluded.

Last week, UVM Board of Trustees chairman Robert Cioffi defended the board's decision to award Fogel what some consider to be a generous severance package.

"President Fogel already had an employment contract that called for 12 months leave at the president's salary, and the board has determined that an additional five months pay is reasonable under these circumstances," said Cioffi. "Dan has accomplished a great deal as president, and he needs the time not only to retool academically, but to address the serious personal issues he is facing. In addition, he will be available to do work on behalf of the university at the discretion of the interim president in the coming months."

Union faculty aren't the only ones concerned about UVM spending. At his weekly news conference, Gov. Peter Shumlin was asked whether he thought Fogel's severance package was too generous.

"I'm not going to second guess the board," he said.

Shumlin added, however, that he and others need to find ways to lower the cost of higher education so more Vermonters can attend UVM and other state colleges.

The governor noted that he would have preferred to see UVM spend money on building a new engineering school rather than a student center, and see UVM hire new professors at reasonable salaries.

Before he announced his retirement earlier this year, Fogel came under fire for hiring a new dean for the UVM business school at a salary of more than $300,000 a year. UVM is also hiring the dean's wife. Combined,  the couple will receive more than $500,000 in compensation.

Fogels compensation would go a long way and even further in funding a baseball program for UVM so Vermonters would have an extra opportunity to further their education in Vt. as well as enjoy the limelight of nationwide sports activities.
But no lets sacrifice education and learning to support the Fogel family healing.
Bad move UVM, you are putting yourselves in the same way Mayor Kiss runs Burlington, which is not a good thing to be compared to.

Governor Shumlin and the legislative trustees *do* need to second-guess and argue with UVM's Board of Trustees. Otherwise, it's a board of people who are entirely unaccountable to the state, have little notion of a public university for a public good, and instead believe very firmly that just as the corporate world lavishes grand salaries and bonuses on those at the top while squeezing workers at the bottom, that's a fine model for a university too. We need what few public representatives we have on the board to step up.

"It's good to be the King."
-Mel Brooks

Our Vermont aristocracy continues to live like 18th century French royalty on the public dime-
Meanwhile they're gonna crack down on those lazy unionized emplyees with their gold plated .05% cost of living adjustments and their (ack) healthcare plans. They might as well change all the union job titles from to "Piss boy".

Insolent Flunky: Count Da Money!
Count de Monet: De Monet! Say it... Mo - nay! Say it with me, Mo - nay!

Obviously we need to honor the terms of Fogel's contract as written, but... "he needs the time not only to retool academically, but to address the serious personal issues he is facing." What?

Maybe my employer wants to pay me to not work for 5 months and work on my "personal issues." Or not.

Who wants to donate money to UVM or its alumni association when they just burn it by paying outrageous administrative salaries?

First, I think the future salary for the english position is a bit ridiculous.

BUT regarding his past salary and severance package...if we want our state school, which has risen in stature hugely in the last 10 years or so, to continue its prominence, we need to attract good leadership at the top levels. (no comment on whether fogel himself was a good president...thats a can of worms).

Basically, we're not going to be pulling great talent away from other schools if we don't throw some change at our current guy. sad but true.

I agree with most of what's being said here. As a native Vermonter UVM grad in the 60's, I am appalled at what this place has become over the years and esp. under Fogel - it's not for Vermonters anymore. I am glad to see him go - they should have never hired him in the first place. This whole compensation package and what they're spending to find another "hot shot" is total B.S. The Legislature should either dissolve the Board of Directors or sell the University to them and let it go private. I have never donated a dime to that joint and never will.

How does leaving a year early and with short notice entitle someone to six extra months of paid leave, various allowances and a $20,000 health and wellness account? Either the board is grotesquely mismanaging it's charge or they wanted him gone sooner rather than later for reasons that have yet to be disclosed. Seriously, I hope it's the latter.

I don't see why the university needs to honor the terms of their contracts. Just read the disclaimer in the staff handbook: " Right to Amend, Alter, or Terminate Benefits
Nothing contained herein should be construed to be a contract. The University reserves the right to amend, alter or terminate any and all policies and benefits described in this document. This applies to benefits offered to employees and retirees, as well as their dependents." Health care benefit one day, next day be told no reasonable person should expect a benefit like this in this day and age (even if your salary was below market rate for 20years. UVM can pay these administrators salary's but can't honor their promises made to long term employees. sounds like a class action suit waiting to happen. let the revolution begin.

Yep, everyone should be paid equal. Prez should make no more than the person who cleans the toilets. Hell, let's put the toilet-cleaner in charge of the whole university. I'm sure that would work out great.

And the whiny professors should all be brought down to the janitors' pay level also.

I have no problem with Fogel's contract or the extra 5 months. He will be here to do things, consult with etc...

His salary as a professor is too high. Of course most professors get paid very little, especially considering what we pay lower education teachers.

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