Who has the best lights in town? Vote now for your favorite in our holiday lights contest.
The $1 million compensation was approved in 2009. The president has been given a new five-year contract.
The Roanoke Times | File 2008
Radford University president Penelope Kyle's new contract runs through June 2018.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Patience can be as rewarding as it is virtuous.
After five sometimes tumultuous years, Radford University President Penelope Kyle recently qualified for a controversial $1 million “stay bonus” approved in 2009.
Additionally, a new five-year contract became effective this month and provides a significant potential boost in Kyle’s deferred compensation, as well as one other perk. A new post-presidential consulting provision could be worth nearly $1,000 a day at Kyle’s current salary.
Radford Board of Visitors Rector Linda Whitley-Taylor could not be reached for an interview, but wrote in an email that the board “sets ambitious goals for the President to advance RU and position it for the future. Through her hard work and commitment she has been successful in leading the institution to achieve these goals.
“We are enthusiastic about continuing her leadership as we collaborate to make RU a leading institution of higher education for the Commonwealth,” Whitley-Taylor wrote.
Whitley-Taylor did not give specific examples of board goals that Kyle has met.
Kyle’s new contract runs through June 30, 2018. Although it does not include a stay bonus, it boosts her maximum deferred compensation to about 53 percent of her base salary, which is currently $304,814.
Kyle is guaranteed to receive deferred compensation of no less than one-third of her base pay, or about $101,605 figured from her current salary.
Deferred compensation is a normal part of university president compensation packages, and works similarly to retirement accounts. Pretax dollars are deposited over time and grow with interest. When the recipient withdraws from those accounts, the funds are taxed as income.
Tech President Charles Steger’s deferred compensation is also just over half of his base salary for 2012-13.
Steger’s base pay is currently $496,688, and his deferred compensation is $253,575, according to figures provided by Tech spokesman Larry Hincker.
With performance and other bonuses and a $20,000 vehicle allowance, Steger’s total compensation is $853,433. Steger is consistently ranked among the highest-paid research university presidents in the nation.
But Tech, though a neighbor, is not among Radford’s national peer universities, which are chosen by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and are used as benchmark institutions for salary and other comparisons.
In addition to standard state benefits for a full-time employee, Kyle’s new contract includes up to $5,000 annually for club and organization memberships, up to $17,500 for disability insurance and up to $5,000 for financial planning.
Kyle also has use of the on-campus president’s house and a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe. All fuel and vehicle expenses are covered by nonstate funds, according to the contract.
The new contract also includes a provision that allows the board to hire Kyle for post-presidency consulting at a daily rate of 3/1,000 of her ending base pay for those services, or $914.44 per day at her current salary.
Former board rectors have consistently praised Kyle’s performance since her 2005 appointment as Radford’s first female president. During her tenure, new buildings have been constructed, including the $42 million, 110,000-square-foot home for the College of Business and Economics.
Kyle has worked to build bridges between Radford and state government. Those relationships have brought in new funds for capital construction and legislative pet projects, such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics — known as STEM — education initiatives.
But there have been bumps, too, and 2009 was a particularly tumultuous year.
That year, Radford became the only public higher education institution in Virginia to post a decline in the number of freshmen enrolled, which caused a dip in total enrollment. Since then the numbers have rebounded and Radford’s student body has grown to more than 9,000, among the highest in the university’s history.
Unpopular and some said unwise curriculum changes and threats of canceled programs caused widespread and high-pitched faculty criticism. High-profile hirings followed by quick departures contributed to the public relations problems.
The Faculty Senate conducted an internal review of allegations of administrative wrongdoing but found nothing actionable. A final report detailed a “culture of fear” created at the institution, and ended with a call that Kyle fire then-Provost Wil Stanton. He resigned soon after.
The $1 million stay bonus was also a source of controversy, particularly among Radford faculty, many of whose salaries consistently rank below those of their national peer institutions and their Virginia counterparts. Meanwhile, administrators’ salaries have remained comparable to their peers’.
Kyle, a former Virginia Lottery director, technically became entitled to the stay bonus on June 30, at the conclusion of her 2009-13 employment contract. Had Kyle left or been terminated before June 30, she would have received none of the money.
There will be no pictures of Kyle with an oversized $1 million cardboard check like Virginia Lottery winners receive. The funds — $200,000 a year for five years — were deposited into a state account, which now is part of Kyle’s overall deferred compensation account, according to university spokesman Joe Carpenter.
The money, like a large chunk of university presidents’ compensation packages, came from private funds overseen by the Radford University Foundation. Some former foundation board members opposed the stay bonus and expressed financial concerns about it in a letter to Kyle in 2009.
“If the funds are not available, this contract could have ruinous consequences for the Radford University Foundation as well as for its board of directors who may have acted irresponsibly and thereby be subject to legal repercussions,” the letter read in part.
Current Foundation Director John Cox refused to grant an interview to The Roanoke Times about the process for funding Kyle’s compensation, or the market performance of accounts from which the funds are drawn.
Cox referred all questions to Carpenter. But Carpenter said he does not speak for the foundation and could not answer questions on its behalf.
The foundation manages and invests private donations to the university. The foundation reported $49.5 million in assets and $6.4 million in revenues on its 2010 tax filing.
Weather JournalMix on Sat AM; coming blog changes