Missouri higher ed system faces scrutiny over executive bonuses, perks
- Former University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin resigned his post in 2015 amidst a campus crisis related to racial animosity and distrust among the student body. He continued to collect his regular salary for a year, and received a new high-paying job at the institution one year later, a point of emphasis in a Missouri state auditor’s report on financial mismanagement with the state’s higher education system office.
- NPR profiles the growing scrutiny of the system office following the report, which says that a culture of financial mismanagement grew under the Board of Curators’ authorization of more than $1 million in incentive payments to system chancellors and executives over the last three years. Those payments included more than $400,000 in vehicle allowances.
- While tuition prices did not increase over the period, the payments are a point of interest as the state prepares for a potential 8% cut in funding to higher education.
States frequently are in focus for executive severance payouts and bonuses which are standard operating costs in order to retain top talent. It is part of the culture of higher education, which demands big investments for high-quality leadership, faculty, and even for students, who require financial aid packages and the allure of state-of-the art facilities to be engaged to enroll.
Boards may consider bonus structures tied to performance metrics in order to simplify justification to legislators, and enhanced funding for motor-pool programs to avoid individual payouts for transportation costs. Additionally, transparent discussions about benefit and severance packages may also be valuable for new hires and retiring executives, to help publics build more trust in the higher education enterprise.