In its March 13 meeting, the Kent State Board of Trustees voted to approve giving President Lester Lefton the full value of his performance bonus of $104,450, which is 25 percent of his $417,799.68 salary. The Board wasn’t shy about complimenting Lefton’s achievements throughout the meeting, citing extensive campus renovations, record enrollment and increased graduation rate by 13 percent among his greatest achievements. Jane Timken, chair of the Board, even called Lefton’s leadership “outstanding” and said the Board was “highly pleased with his performance.”
But despite openly singing his praises, the Board kept quiet about his bonus and the amount he would be receiving. At the meeting, a packet was handed out to those in attendance that outlined the resolutions to be voted on by the Board, and Lefton’s bonus was among those left out of the packet. While other resolutions voted on by the Board were left out of the packet — we were told this was because some were made after the packet had been compiled — we find it a little hard to believe, and even a little disturbing, that the Board would make a last-minute decision to award Lefton over $100,000.
If it weren’t for a brief mention of the bonus from Trustee Dennis Eckart, we might never have known the Board was voting on his bonus at all, as it is typically awarded later in the semester during the second Board meeting. We also found out in a post-meeting press conference that Lefton once again set his own goals for evaluation, which the Board decided he met.
We can’t help but feel like the bonus and process behind the Board’s decision to award it were deliberately downplayed in hopes of stifling media attention. But when 25,000 students are paying thousands of dollars to attend Kent State, we think they have a right to know when a big chunk of that money is going straight to the president of the university.
The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.