Wilson's UMass Perks Not Unusual, Observers Say

By Sarah Birnbaum

Dec, 19, 2011

BOSTON —  The University of Massachusetts is launching a probe into how much it is paying former president Jack Wilson. His cushy situation, however, may not be so unusual.

Many people were shocked to find out that Wilson, who stepped down from the job in June, is still drawing his presidential salary of $425,000 for the rest of the academic year. The Boston Globe broke the story. Officially, Wilson is on a one-year sabbatical.

Meanwhile, the school is also paying new president Bob Caret $425,000... so it's paying twice for the same position. 

Then next year, Wilson will go on to teach at UMass Lowell, where he may earn $317,000 annually — nearly triple the average salary of senior UMass professors.

According to a university spokesperson, James Karam, the chairman of the UMass board of trustees, has asked a compensation committee to review Wilson’s contract to see if it is consistent with university policies. The panel is expected to reach a conclusion in January.

Critics in the Legislature and academic community say Wilson shouldn't be making so much, especially when the university is raising student fees and asking the state for more money.

But observers say that sabbaticals and other perks for departing presidents have become the norm all over the country. And according to a study from the Chronicle of Higher Education, Massachusetts ranks somewhere in the middle when it comes to how much it pays its public university presidents. For example, in the 2009–2010 academic year, the president of Penn State got $620,000, the University of Texas system president got $725,000 and the president of Ohio State got a base salary of $802,000.

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