University of Louisville to spend $23,000 on consultant review of top salaries
Verisight Inc. will examine the pay of the university's three executive vice presidents (the provost and vice presidents for health affairs and research), the senior vice president for finance and administration and the general counsel, in addition to Ramsey, according to public relations executive Tim Mulloy, who has been working with U of L.
Verisight's written proposal, dated March 3, says it will examine cash pay, benefits and perks for administrators at an “appropriate peer group” of 10-20 schools using athletic conferences as a guide – the Atlantic Coast Conference (to which U of L belongs), the PAC-12, the Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference.
Verisight will also survey about 20 peer schools, with the hope that at least five will confidentially share data about pay, benefits, incentives and perks, according to the proposal.
Compensation for U of L's top administrators has been a hot topic since February, when reporters noticed a tax form indicating that several executives had received large amounts of deferred compensation from the U of L Foundation, a separate nonprofit.
The foundation's latest tax form shows that deferred payments went to Ramsey ($2.3 million); former Provost Shirley Willihnganz ($1.7 million); Dr. Donald Miller of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center ($1.7 million); Ramsey's chief of staff Kathleen Smith ($1.3 million); senior associate athletics director Kevin Miller ($219,534); and former vice president of finance Michael Curtin ($108,674).
All those amounts, which were generally earned incrementally over as many as 10 years, vested in 2012, according to the form.
The outside review of compensation came to light during a tense meeting last month in which some U of L trustees demanded more information about the extent to which the $1 billion foundation compensates employees, and Ramsey said such questions show a lack of trust in his leadership.
Brucie Moore, chair of the Board of Trustees' compensation committee, said the consultant's report would be ready for the board to review at its annual retreat in July.
“We've asked them to include all compensation from the foundation for those key employees,” Moore told fellow trustees during the May 14 meeting.
But not all employees who get deferred compensation – which is meant to retain key leaders – will be subject to Verisight's comparison.
“This is a compensation study, not a deferred compensation study,” U of L spokesman Mark Hebert said in an email.
Hebert said the scope of the report was limited to “the senior leadership that comprises the Office of the President” – with the addition of the vice president for strategy / general counsel position (Leslie Strohm) at Moore's request. Moore, the county attorney in Union County, Ky., did not return a call for comment.
Mulloy added that Verisight will examine the compensation of former Provost Willihnganz – not that of interim Provost Neville Pinto. (Willihnganz will officially resign the position June 30, though she left the job on a daily basis as of May 11).
Verisight estimated the report would cost $22,000 to $24,500:
The Board of Trustees' next meeting is at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Donald Baxter Biomedical Research Building, 570 S. Preston St.
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