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Alaska Editorial: UA president bonus a bad idea

Posted: August 5, 2014 - 11:02pm

The following editorial first appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:

It’s a bad decision on the face of it from a public perspective.

The University of Alaska Board of Regents hopes to entice the system’s president to extend his stay with a $320,000 bonus.

This is while the university must close a $12 million budget deficit, and, in its attempt, laying off about 40 staff at the Fairbanks campus while the other campuses allow positions to remain vacant.

Clearly, in economic times such as the university is experiencing, it needs steady and capable leadership, and it can be a challenge to fill the presidency. It wouldn’t be the best time to change presidents.

But, a bonus to the tune of a full year’s presidential salary is excessive. Plus, other people capable of leading the university and welcoming the challenge are available; it might not seem like it when facing the prospect of all the time it will take to solicit, interview, negotiate with and bring a new president to the system, but often one good president follows in the footsteps of another when a search is carried out properly.

Additionally, the system should want a president who wants to be in charge for an extended time, not one who has indicated an interest to move out of the position and whose desire to stay doesn’t depend on an out-of-place bonus.

Being president of the university system isn’t just a job; it’s a commitment to Alaska and Alaskans. It’s a position in which its occupant should really want to be president.

That’s not to say a salary shouldn’t be appropriate for the position, but a bonus of the magnitude being offered is out of whack with the times and the events taking place within the system financially.

When times are tough, sometimes they get tougher before they are resolved. That just might be the situation for the Board of Regents and the university when it comes to filling the president’s position.

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