Lefton’s bonus raised 5 percent

Contract amendment approved at last board meeting

Story by Kristyn Soltis & Ben Wolford

VIEW a pdf of Lefton’s contract amendment.

VIEW a pdf of Lefton’s contract.

Changes to President Lester Lefton’s contract could make his total compensation as much as $533,156.25 next fiscal year.

Lefton’s annual bonus will increase 5 percent under an amendment to his employment contract that the Board of Trustees approved Tuesday. It brings his maximum bonus to 25 percent of his base salary.

This change in his contract will allow the board to grant the president a maximum bonus of $94,631.25 – an $18,926.25 difference from his previous bonus amount.

“We felt that he deserved it,” said Trustee Emilio Ferrara. “We’re just happy with what we’ve got as a president and thought that he should be compensated for it.”

The terms of how Lefton’s salary will be raised were changed to stipulate that he could only get a pay raise at the average rate of other university employee’s raises.

“I think that the board saw that we’ve probably had the best performance year in the history of the university,” Lefton said.

He went on to cite such improvements as setting a university record for fundraising, increasing enrollment 12 percent and boosting retention 6 percent – all in the middle of an economic recession.

“In a year where other universities are retrenching and keeping their heads down,” Lefton said, “we provided extra money for scholarships.”

He said the board also wanted to bring his compensation more in line with other universities in the state.

Besides that, he said there was at least one trustee who was concerned “another university might make a run on me.”

“When you’ve had a very successful year, like this year, the head hunters come out of the woodwork,” Lefton said.

But Lefton was never planning to leave.

“I made no threats,” he said. “I’m very happy here at Kent State. I see myself being here for a long time helping the university achieve its destiny and doing the right things for students.”

Other changes to Lefton’s employment contract:

&bull Under Lefton’s previous retirement plan, Kent State credited $50,000 to his retirement account each year. Under his new contract, Lefton will receive a $60,000 cash bonus upon accepting the terms of his contract, which he has.

In addition, beginning July 1, 2010, upon completion of the agreed quantifiable goals set by the board, $10,000 will be added each subsequent year – $70,000, then $80,000, etc. – until the contract expires in 2013.

&bull The word “quantifiable” was added to the section about how Lefton will be evaluated each year by the board. Each year, the board and Lefton agree on goals for the next year. Those are evaluated and factored into his annual bonus. Now those goals must be quantifiable.

&bull Lefton was allotted four weeks of paid vacation under his original contract, but the amendment allows 25 days paid vacation during fiscal years 2009 to 2011 and 30 days paid vacation for fiscal years 2011 through 2014. Any business or professional meetings will not count as vacation days.

&bull The university provides Lefton with a $50,000 home allowance each year and will continue to provide it. Now he will receive an additional $15,000 “to subsidize utilities and remain the residence in good repair.”

&bull A new paragraph in the housing section of his contract will provide Lefton with a one-time payment of $25,000 in September 2011 to handle any painting, cleaning or repair issues related to university use.

Contact administration reporter Kristyn Soltis at [email protected] and news team leader Ben Wolford at [email protected].