$44,000 pay boost raises questions

Kelly Tyko

The university’s top fund-raiser was quietly given a $44,000 boost, while most of our professors made do with a 2.5 percent raise this fall. But then some of our trustees found out about it and started asking questions.

Carla Coleman, senior vice president of the university development office and executive director of the FAU Foundation, received a $44,000 pay raise to $185,000, for a 31 percent increase over last year.

The pay raises were brought to light by trustee and foundation member Bill Bryant, who asked Interim President Richard Osburn to justify them.

“How can this happen? An executive board making a decision without getting the whole board’s approval … When was this ever going to be brought to the Board of Trustees?

“My overall concern as a board member is the impact, not only local, but statewide, and in the government. This can have far-reaching implications, as in my mind, it relates to an amendment that’s going to be put on,” Bryant said.

The raise would make Coleman the school’s third-highest paid administrator behind Osburn and Kenneth Jessell, now filling in as the university’s top academic officer, according to university documents. Both Osburn and Jessell are making about $191,000 in their temporary posts — and the academic chief’s pay was boosted only to put it ahead of Coleman’s, Osburn explained in a recent letter to Bryant.

While traditionally, the university president has set top administrators’ salaries, board members told Osburn he should have consulted with them.

The FAU Foundation’s executive committee awarded the raises to Coleman and her staff. The foundation’s board of directors approved the raises as an overall appropriation, and its members did not review individual raises, Osburn said.

“I thought these were foundation funds and they had the (sole) authority” on the raises, Osburn said. He noted that Coleman’s new salary places her in only the 40th percentile — below average — of comparable university employees elsewhere.

Trustee Bruce Warshall agreed with the increase, saying Coleman “is still below where she should be [in salary].”

“We need to stop thinking of ourselves as a small college tucked behind the palm trees.

“There’s going to be a lot of resentment,” he acknowledged, ” … [but] we’re not going to become major if we don’t start paying our help,” Warshall said.

Fred Hoffman, chair of the University Faculty Council, shared a faculty member’s perspective: “What I think upset the faculty greatly was this difference [coming] now for the highest-paid administrators, and [in] four years for the faculty.”

The trustees also agreed at the meeting to ask the state for about $4 million for faculty raises during the next two years, instead of four.