Lefton gets $102,402 Bonus, Pay Raise
$90,000 longevity bonus also effective July 1; Kent State trustees approve contractual pay awards following 'exhaustive' performance review
Editor's note: this story was updated at 8:30 p.m. June 6, as it initially incorrectly stated Lefton's longevity bonus was $95,000.
For the second consecutive year, Kent State University President Lester Lefton's bonus will exceed $100,000 for his performance as head of Ohio's second largest public university.
The Kent State University Board of Trustees voted this afternoon to give Lefton a $104,402 bonus.
The bonus, which is stipulated in Lefton's contract, is 25 percent of his $409,608 base salary, which includes a 2 percent retroactive pay increase also approved by the board Wednesday.
Kent State spokesperson Emily Vincent said in an email after the meeting that Lefton's pay raise is the same raise awarded to all university employees.
For all non-union employees, which includes Lefton, the board voted in December 2011 to grant a 1.5 percent pay raise retroactive to September 2011.
"An additional 0.5 percent was approved at today’s meeting," Vincent said.
Last year, Lefton received a $100,394 bonus, which at the time was 25 percent of his $401,576 base pay.
On top of the performance bonus, Lefton's contract stipulates that he will receive a $90,000 longevity bonus provided he is still employed with the university on July 1, 2012. Lefton has a multi-year contract with Kent State.
Effective July 1, Lefton will enter his seventh year as president having just received in excess of $600,000 in annual compensation that includes the one-time longevity bonus.
Jacqueline Woods, chair of the university trustee board, said this year the board chose to undergo a more thorough evaluation of the president, rather than just the regular annual review by the board, that included hiring an outside consulting firm to analyze Lefton's performance.
The board hired Westlake, OH, based Aldridge Group to conduct the review, which consisted of interviewing members of the university administration, students and city leaders — 29 people in all — to weigh his performance. His performance was viewed favorably by all those interviewed, Woods said.
"This was a very exhaustive process," she said. "As a board, we are delighted and proud of the university's performance during the last year and during (his) six year tenure."
Woods said each year several goals are laid out for Lefton, and if he meets those goals as determined by the board then he is guaranteed the pay awards as stipulated in his contract.
As evidence of meeting those goals, just some of the successes Woods pointed to included: the university's record enrollment in fall 2011; the success of the Centennial Campaign fundraising efforts, which just exceeded $260 million; this year's freshmen retention rates tracking 1.8 percent higher than the previous year; and the acquisition of the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine, which will merge and become the Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine effective July 1.
"The university is in a very strong position and the board of trustees recognize that," Woods said.
Several other members of the trustee board said Lefton has been critical to the ensuring Kent State's success.
Kent State Trustee Steve Colecchi, who also serves as CEO of Robinson Memorial Hospital, said as a Kent resident he has talks to someone about the university almost everyday in one capacity or another.
"I’ve never heard more positive comments about the university, the town-gown relationship, all the great progress that’s occurring," Colecchi said. "I think that’s reflective of (his) leadership."
Patrick Mullin, who officially retired as a Kent State trustee this afternoon, served on the hiring committee that brought Lefton to Kent six years ago.
"I could not be prouder of the choice that we made and the job (Lefton) has done," he said.