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University president gets $100,000 bonus to stay 3 years

Posted: Friday, June 27, 2003

ANCHORAGE - University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton will get a $100,000 bonus if he stays on the job three more years, under the terms of his new contract.

Hamilton, who will continue to earn an annual salary of $250,000, said in April he would work for a dollar next year if legislators gave the university an additional $10 million.

The UA Board of Regents unanimously approved the "contract-completion" award during a meeting June 10 in Fairbanks. Hamilton, a retired Army general, will receive the bonus only if he completes the three-year contract, said Elsa Demeksa of Juneau, the board's vice chairperson.

Sen. John Cowdery, an Anchorage Republican, criticized the bonus, saying it was inappropriate when the state is struggling with drastic cuts to deal with its chronic budget shortfall.

"I think it's wrong," Cowdery said. "I don't think this has anything to do with education. Actions like this take away from the classroom. We don't have unlimited funds here."

Hamilton's base salary of $250,000, along with a $9,300 vehicle allowance and the $25,000 bonus he received last year, exceeds that of many state officials. The governor makes $85,776.

Hamilton could not be reached for comment. University officials said his salary is far short of the national average for presidents of state university systems. UA officials used data from The Chronicle of Higher Education to show the average salary for university system presidents nationwide is $325,000 a year.

"He has agreed to take no salary increase for three years and that if he stays here for three years to accept the $100,000 bonus," said university spokesman Bob Miller.

During the legislative session, Cowdery complained that Hamilton made too much money. That's when Hamilton said that if his pay was standing in the way of funding the university, he would work for a dollar next year.

The issue emerged as the university sought a $10.3 million increase that Gov. Frank Murkowski was proposing in his budget.

The state budget passed by the Legislature included a net increase in university funding of about $4.5 million.



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