Ransdell gets big contract

Mai Hoang

Gary Ransdell and the university are no longer newlyweds, but the Board of Regents is doing its best to make sure Ransdell remains excited about the prospect of a long-term relationship.

Just 10 days after Ransdell’s five-year anniversary on the Hill, the board approved a contract for Ransdell Friday laced with incentives if he chooses to spend his career on the Hill.

“This is meant not only to say ‘Good Job,’ but ‘We want to keep you Dr. Ransdell,” Regent Robert Earl Fischer said during the meeting.

The board voted 10-1 in favor of the new four-year contract. Faculty regent Robert Dietle dissented. The board can vote to extend the contract at the end of each fiscal year.

The document stipulates that Ransdell will receive a yearly salary of $210,320 — an 11.7 percent increase — beginning in January.

Ransdell’s new salary is still lower than that of some presidents at other state universities, including former University of Louisville president John Shumaker and University of Kentucky president Lee Todd. But his wage is well above others, including presidents at Eastern Kentucky, Morehead State and Murray State.

Besides a salary increase, Ransdell’s contract outlines incentives he will receive for a long-term commitment. They include:

*A 25 percent salary increase in 2007.

*Upon retirement, he will receive 25 percent of his base salary and benefits for 10 years if he retires after Jan. 1, 2012.

*An additional 28 percent of his salary each year will be placed in a deferred incentive payment plan for Ransdell’s use. The amount of that fund available to Ransdell would increase yearly. In 2007, he would be given 100 percent access to the fund.

Ransdell’s pay increase and other financial incentives will be funded with revenue growth in the university budget, including tuition funds from an increasing enrollment and additional funding from the state, Chief Financial Officer Ann Mead said.

Ransdell will also receive a benefits package that includes health and life insurance, an expense account, housing and a car.

“What comes forth is the best solution to retain President Ransdell,” said Regent Kristen Bale, chair of the President Contract Review committee.

Ransdell said he was satisfied with the contract the board has given to him.

“After five years on the job, I’m convinced we can achieve the national prominence we seek,” he said after the meeting. “And I’ve come to the conclusion that I want to spend the rest of my career here pursuing that prominence.”

Dietle said Ransdell deserved the contract extension, but said he did not agree with the amount of the pay increase.

“It didn’t seem appropriate to me at this time to give this sort of salary increase,” Dietle said. “If the financial picture was brighter, I would not have an issue with the compensation package.”

He said he also disagreed with the board’s decision to lock down long-term pay increases for Ransdell. Giving incentives ahead of time is not the best tactic to retain Ransdell, he said.

“I think those issues should be taken as they arise,” he said. “I don’t see why the board felt they needed to lock this at this date.”

English professor Mary Ellen Miller said Ransdell’s pay increase could be disheartening to faculty and staff members who recently received modest raises.

History professor Patricia Minter said she was concerned about the pay increase because it comes at a time when faculty members are expected to do more with less. Also this month, faculty were handed higher health insurance premiums.

“Dr. Ransdell has done a good job and his contract should be extended,” she said. “There is some very troubling ethical issues with providing him with such a rich compensation package. It will be bad for faculty and staff morale.”

Board approves third-party administrator switch

The board gave authorization for Western to change its third-party administrator for the university’s self-insurance plan to Anthem, Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]