Bad enough that their football and basketball teams crash, that their enrollment collapses, that their reputation craters after the campus’s PC meltdown in 2015, now University of Missouri officials are being forced to explain why they awarded themselves millions in incentive payments during this same period.
As reported in the Columbia Daily Tribune, incentive payments to 18 MU administrators exceeded $120,000 for at least one among them and of the top brass only interim President Mike Middleton failed to get a slice of the action.
This announcement further riled university faculty members. In recent years their salaries have often to failed keep up with the cost of living while the salaries of administrators grew in seeming indifference to budget restraints. The incentive payments were in addition to those salaries.
“It appears that the university was using these items to boost administrators’ pay without having to disclose it publicly,” said State Auditor Nicole Galloway who discovered the off-payroll program that has paid out $2.4 million over the past three years.
“These actions show a complete lack of awareness from a group of administrators who have forgotten who they serve,” added Galloway. “System leaders must work to accept responsibilities for their actions and regain the public’s confidence instead of listing off excuses.”
Galloway observed that the criteria for the awards were subjective and recipients in some cases did not even know they were eligible until they got their cut. This would seem to be in violation of the Missouri Constitution which bars the General Assembly from awarding extra pay for work already performed. An attorney general’s opinion from 1955 extended the prohibition to any “government agency deriving its power and authority from the constitution and laws of the state.”
The timing for the university could scarcely have been worse. In the weeks prior to Galloway’s revelation university boosters had been decrying cuts to the university budgets by new Gov. Eric Greitens. In January, MU lost almost $20 million in state support when Greitens announced that he was withholding nearly $150 million in general revenue spending. Galloway also revealed that $120,000 had been paid out in bonuses immediately after earlier state budget cuts were announced in June 2016.
Greitens scolded MU honchos for taking the money while talking about tuition increases. “Salaries of those upper-level leaders jumped $4 million between 2015 and 2016,” wrote Greitens. “So when they say that students should have to pay more, I don’t buy it.”