BOWLING GREEN - Officials at Bowling Green State University were in the giving mood yesterday.
The board of trustees gave President Sidney Ribeau an $8,100 raise, and he promptly gave it right back to help broaden a university initiative.
“It is something that I believe in strongly,” said Dr. Ribeau, who asked that the money go toward the “BG experience,” a pet project of his that asks students to think critically about their values and aims to develop principled leaders.
This isn't the first time that Dr. Ribeau has passed on a pay increase. In 1997, he asked that a $15,000 bonus be used to establish a leadership academy on campus.
Even before yesterday's 3 percent raise, Dr. Ribeau, 55, was paid $270,000, placing him well above the national median salary of $243,360 for a university president and among the top half of presidential paychecks at Ohio public universities.
By comparison, Dr. Daniel Johnson at the University of Toledo ranks 10th among the 13 presidents with a $240,000 salary. He received a $25,000 raise in October.
Dr. Karen Holbrook, Ohio State University's president, tops the list at $325,000 a year.
Hired in 1995, Dr. Ribeau's salary has risen quickly in recent years as officials said they chose to reward his performance and bring his salary into line with other presidents.
He was given a raise of more than $35,000 in 1998, and last year, he received two increases - including a 19 percent increase approved in December that took his annual pay from $227,272 to $270,000 and made him the highest paid public employee in the region - despite state budget cuts to higher education.
Members of the board of trustees say he's worth every penny.
“There is unanimous opinion that Sidney Ribeau's performance has been outstanding,” said David Bryan, a board member who chaired the president's evaluation. “It has to do with his ability to help the institution develop a vision.”
Board Chairman Leon Bibb called the president “the voice and oftentimes the conscience of the university.”
Given the fact that the university remains stuck in tough fiscal times - BGSU tuition is up from a year ago by 16 percent for returning students and by 20 percent for freshmen - officials said they thought a 3 percent raise was appropriate. Over the last decade, faculty salary increases have averaged slightly more than 3 percent.
Benjamin Muego, chairman of the BGSU faculty senate, said the raise was well-timed and well-deserved and praised the president's decision to give it back to the university as “a wonderful gesture.”
Dr. Ribeau said he firmly believes in the value of the “BG experience” and hopes his contribution will help begin to expand it.
This fall, over 130 freshmen took part in a pilot program integrating values exploration into course content. Over the next three years, Dr. Ribeau said he hopes BGSU can raise enough money, probably about $2 million, to create a values center that would bring together scholars from a number of disciplines, including philosophy, education, and sociology.
He said such an emphasis on values and creating principled leaders is especially important now, as people wrestle with scandals such as those at Enron and WorldCom.
In other business, trustees: