Lefton receives $73,500 bonus, 3 percent raise

Ben Wolford

The Board of Trustees, with a thumbs-up from a presidential review committee, granted President Lester Lefton a $73,500 performance bonus and a 3 percent raise at the May 28 meeting, bringing his annual salary to $378,525.

Lefton’s contract allows for a performance bonus of as much as 20 percent of the base salary, and he was rewarded the full value.

“We could not be happier with the job (Lefton) is doing as president,” said Patrick Mullin, trustee and chair of the committee that reviewed Lefton. “He’s brought energy and intellect and helped us to focus on strategic opportunities with our premier programs.”

Mullin said a three-person committee looked at written evaluations of Lefton from each trustee before interviewing them individually. Then they condensed each opinion into a single document for review with Lefton.

“The role of the trustees is to make sure that his strategy for the university is appropriate,” Mullin said. “The things that are really important to us are enrollment, retention and graduation.”

While freshman enrollment stayed about the same from Fall 2006 to Fall 2007, the retention rate increased 1.4 percent and the graduation rate rose more than 3 percent, according to the university’s Web site.

Mullin also said Lefton’s success in the areas of marketing and fundraising have been praiseworthy.

“We raised a lot of money,” Lefton said. “We will have raised probably $25 or $27 million – exceeding last year’s goals.”

Lefton’s salary increase matched the 3 percent raise offered to the faculty in collective bargaining and was lower than the 5 percent increase the board gave him in 2007.

“I think the board is sensitive to the fact that it is unlikely that we’re going to be giving big raises to anybody,” Lefton said. “(The percentage decrease) was not based upon performance, but was meant to set a standard for the rest of the institution.”

According to a national survey of universities by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, Lefton’s raise is slightly lower than the median chief executive’s raise at public institutions in fiscal year 2007.

His bonus is about $7,000 higher than the average bonus given to chief executives of institutions with multiple campuses, according to the survey.

Contact principal reporter Ben Wolford at [email protected].