Recent years have seen lots of changes in leadership at Penn State, and now some of those leaders are being rewarded with bigger paychecks.
At the compensation committee meeting Thursday at Penn State Beaver, five increases were put on the table.
President Eric Barron recommended salary increases for four Tier II executives and one Tier IIA.
“Each of these individuals have served during a time of considerable growth and progress and the university has accomplished a great deal under their leadership. All have responsibilities that spread across Penn State’s 24 campuses, involving our 17,000 faculty and staff, and nearly 100,000 students,” Barron told the committee.
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Steve Dunham became the university’s general counsel in May 2012 when he was hired away from Johns Hopkins as Happy Valley was in the midst of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. His new salary will be $551,364.
Nick Jones came on board a year later, also by way of Johns Hopkins, to serve as provost, the university’s academic chief and the man who steps into the CEO’s shoes if the president is unavailable. His new salary will be $511,296.
Rodney Kirsch has been a longtime member of the most senior staff at Penn State. He came on board in 1996. As the senior vice president for development and alumni relations, Kirsch has overseen the collection of more than $4 billion in gifts to the university. His new salary will be $481,320.
University treasurer and senior vice president for finance and business David Gray is an alum who came back to Penn State after stints with the University of Massachusetts, research staff for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the New Jersey Department of the Treasury. At Penn State, he oversees everything from university police to the Office of Physical Plant, taking over in 2011 for former VP Gary Schultz. His new salary will be $470,568.
And then there is athletic director Sandy Barbour. The only one of the five who is newer to the campus than Barron himself, the announcement of her hiring was one of the new president’s first big moments. Her department has seen big news over the past year, not the least of which was the early repeal of NCAA sanctions imposed after Sandusky’s 2012 conviction. Those rollbacks saw the Nittany Lions return to postseason play at the Pinstripe Bowl in December. Her new salary will be $720,996.
In an earlier finance meeting, Barron spoke about holding down spending, including keeping salary increases to an average of 3 percent. With the five executives, he said he was able to keep the average to 2.9 percent.
The president’s own salary was also under discussion. Rather than a percent increase, the committee gave its go-ahead for a one-time lump sum merit payment of $24,000.
“We want to reward you for the great job you’ve done,” said committee chairman Paul Silvis.
Barron came to Penn State from Florida State in June 2014 after an extensive search.
The salary increases for the executives do not need further board approval. Barron’s bonus, however, will have to be ratified by the full board on Friday.