Board of Trustees grants Lefton a raise

Jackie Valley

The Board of Trustees raised President Lester Lefton’s annual salary yesterday to $367,500 – a 5 percent increase – in addition to a one-time $70,000 performance bonus.

During the first board meeting of the semester, Sandra Harbrecht, chair of the Board of Trustees, said the raise comes in the wake of the board’s annual performance review of the president. The appraisal process involved between 30 and 40 administrators, faculty and board members.

Harbrecht said the Board of Trustees determined Lefton met or exceeded all first-year goals, and consequently had “about as good a first year as you’re going to get.”

In addition, she said Lefton contributed “very significant accomplishments in an environment of great challenge” as a new president, such as growing system-wide enrollment, spearheading the development of a major retention initiative and helping increase research funding.

University spokesman Ron Kirksey said the money for the president’s salary increase comes from public funds – state funding and tuition.

After 15 years at Kent State, former President Carol Cartwright’s salary was $270,000 – $97,500 less than Lefton’s.

Lefton said it has been an exciting year to be a part of the Kent State community.

“I hope that I met their expectations, but more importantly, the expectations of the institution,” he said.

Lefton said he has succeeded in articulating “how good Kent State is” and improving the overall morale of the campus community.

“Part of a leader’s goal is to set an aspiration and ask everyone to go along,” he said.

The Board of Trustees also approved the purchase of the Meeker/Houser property on South Lincoln Street across from Franklin Hall near Starbucks.

In a board committee meeting yesterday, David Creamer, senior vice president for administration, said the property – appraised at $150,000 – falls in the campus link area that connects the university to downtown Kent.

Creamer said the campus link area “needs to be developed in a way that is advantageous to students and faculty.”

He said the university envisions creating additional parking to accommodate faculty and staff who now reside in Franklin Hall with the acquisition of the Meeker/Houser property.

Also during a committee meeting, Provost Robert Frank discussed his new initiatives, including the Liberal Education Requirements review Lefton announced in his State of the University address Tuesday.

“As students move from one major to another, their fluidity is hampered by the LERs,” he said.

Frank said this can disadvantage students, and in turn negatively affect recruitment and retention, if students decide to go elsewhere to finish their degrees.

Frank said the goal of the LER review is to “create a core set of LERs that facilitate progress in their degrees and set the foundation for the kind of education we believe our undergraduates need.”

Once the Strategic Plan is created, Frank said he will begin discussing the LER changes with the faculty because the changes will be part of the new Academic Plan.

While there is not a timetable for the completion of these initiatives, Frank said there is a “very full agenda of issues to move forward with the faculty this year.”

Contact administration reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].

Board of Trustees’ List of Accomplishments by President Lefton

• Recruited top-tier leadership with the addition of Robert Frank, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, and Gene Finn, vice president for institutional advancement.

• Initiated evaluation of responsibility-centered budgeting in cooperation with David Creamer, senior vice president for administration, and Cheryl Casper, chair of the Faculty Senate.

• Grew enrollment system-wide by 1.3 percent in 2007, ending a two-year cycle of enrollment declines.

• Spearheaded development of a major retention initiative resulting in an increase in the freshmen retention rate last year.

• Increased student recruitment resulting in 3,635 first-time new freshmen.

• Pushed a recommitment to funded research, resulting in a 23-percent increase in research funding.

• Met extensively with university alumni and friends across the country.

• Provided leadership and innovative ideas for education reform to the Northeast Ohio Universities Collaboration and Innovation Study Commission and to the Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents.

• Expanded Kent State’s international relations and collaborative opportunities by meeting at home and abroad with education and government leaders.

• Enhanced the image, credibility and influence of Kent State in the region and throughout the state.

2006-2007 Presidential Salaries

Ohio State – Gordon Gee – $775,000*

University of Toledo – Lloyd A. Jacobs – $385,000

Kent State – Lester Lefton – $367,500**

University of Cincinnati – Nancy L. Zimpher – $343,350

Wright State – Kim Goldenberg – $327,213

University of Akron – Luis M. Proenza – $325,077

Miami University – David C. Hodge – $325,000

Bowling Green – Sidney A. Ribeau – $295,752

Ohio University – Roderick J. McDavis – $294,665

Cleveland State – Michael Schwartz – $279,825

Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

*Gee’s 2007-2008 salary

**Lefton’s 2007-2008 salary