An audit of top administrators and the Board of Curators in the University of Missouri system shows more than $2 million in hidden “bonus” pay.
According to state Auditor Nicole Galloway, during a three year period, 18 executives were awarded $1.2 million in incentives that weren’t tied to any achievements.
18 top ranking executives also received $407,000 in vehicle allowances during 2015 and 2016. And more than $800,000 in unreported retention bonuses, relocation payments and housing allowances were doled out.
Galloway says the bonus payments appear to break the state constitution because they weren’t tied to any incentives.
“Incentive payments are tied to measurable specific criteria designed to incentivize high performance” said Galloway. “And what we found is the system did not have that criteria in place. They didn’t have those types of measurable criteria where it says ‘If you meet certain goals, you’re going to earn this payment’.”
The audit shows many administrators receive more than $1,200 per month in vehicle allowance pay to cover the cost of a leased luxury vehicle, insurance and fuel. Galloway considers this allocation excessive because reimbursement for mileage would total only a third of the cost.
The examination also revealed former Chancellor R. Bowen Lofton was paid 75 percent of his salary as well as $200,000 in additional money after he resigned his position. Galloway implied a new contract and compensation for Lofton paid him nearly half-a-million dollars to take to a year off.
“The system in the university could not provide any documentation or provide any source of work product, any deliverables that he did, could not provide how this new contract was negotiated, the terms surrounding that contract.”
Lofton resigned under pressure after a series of racially charged incidents at the Columbia campus made national headlines in 2015.
The university says his contract required he be given a tenured position after vacating his job as chancellor. He’s currently working to bolster the school’s research programs in programs involving defense, intelligence and homeland security.
In a statement, the university said Lofton “will be evaluated this spring to assess his effectiveness and success in locating funding opportunities and partnerships for MU investigators”.
In 2015, Standard & Poor’s credit rating service downgraded the university system’s status from stable to negative following the racial unrest and Lofton’s resignation. Its standing was restored to stable by the service March 1st.
Republican Governor Eric Greitenss budget calls for a roughly $150 million cut to higher education in the next fiscal year which starts July 1st. He downsized the allocation for the University of Missouri by nearly $23 million, in addition to $20 million which is being withheld from its budget in the current fiscal year.
Greitens released a statement Monday evening which was highly critical of higher education administrators.
“Top University of Missouri leaders (anyone with dean, president, chancellor, provost, director, chief, and chair in their job titles) already get more than $62 million in combined annual salary” said Greitens. “Salaries of those upper-level leaders jumped $4 million between 2015 and 2016. So when they say that students should have to pay more, I don’t buy it.”
New MU System President Mun Choi say the executive compensation arrangement is necessary to attract and retain top leaders in a competitive national market.
Galloway says her audit uncovers an alarming misuse of taxpayer money. “$2 million in bonuses and an administrator receiving half a million in pay with no work product is disturbing and does not demonstrate accountability to taxpayers or to students.”