President John Kelly might receive a $350,000 bonus, higher salary, contract extension

The Florida Board of Governors will vote on whether to extend Kelly’s contract and raise his salary next week.


John Kelly, pictured second to left. Photo courtesy of FAU

Sophie Siegel, Editor in Chief

Next Wednesday and Thursday, the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) will meet to vote on President John Kelly keeping his position at FAU and a potential raise.


If both are confirmed, he will remain at FAU through 2020, receive a $30,000 raise from his current $475,000 salary, along with a $350,000 bonus and benefits.


According to the recommendation letter from the FAU Board of Trustees (BOT), Kelly’s salary was among the fifth highest within the state university system presidents. Kelly became the university president in 2014.


There are two ways this can go:


  • Along with the $350,000 bonus, Kelly may receive a salary bump of $30,000 and access to a car provided by the university.
  • If the contract is terminated by the BOG, Kelly will become a full-time tenured professor with no special compensation. His base salary will be 80 percent of the presidential salary. That salary would be adjusted after four years of teaching.


An attachment on the BOT’s letter listed reasons for the salary increase and reappointment. Here are their six main reasons:


  • Performance funding metrics
    • According to the BOG’s argument for Kelly, he hired 26 academic advisers to fix FAU’s poor freshman retention rate and six-year graduation rate and implemented a summer program to help new freshmen declare their major sooner. By 2016, FAU was the top-ranking university in the state.
  • Admission standards
    • Under Kelly, starting in 2016, the average GPA of FAU’s entering class was 3.95, where they admitted about 3,200 freshmen.
  • Strategic plan, pillars, and platforms
    • One of Kelly’s goals was to make FAU the “fastest improving university.” To do so, he revamped four STEM areas of research: healthy aging, neuroscience, ocean science and engineering/environmental science, and sensing and smart systems. The changes earned FAU, along with two other schools, the Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments.
  • World-class partnerships
    • The FAU Max Planck Honors Program is an undergraduate neuroscience research program on the Jupiter campus created under Kelly.
  • A.D. Henderson and FAU High
    • Currently, FAU High is ranked as the No. 2 best public high school in Florida. FAU High has also won the Blue Ribbon Award for academic excellence.
  • Athletic excellence
    • Kelly hired head football coach Lane Kiffin, who led the Owls to their first Conference USA championship and Boca Bowl victories in program history.


The vote for the potential reappointment and salary increase will take place during the BOG’s next meeting, which will be over the course of March 27 and 28. This is a developing story, check back to the UP for updates.


Sophie Siegel is the Editor in Chief with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet her @SophSiegel