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UT trustees approve new president’s 5-year contract

Gaber could also get 20 percent in bonuses

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Incoming University of Toledo President Sharon Gaber will make $450,000 a year, plus have a chance to pick up an annual bonus to boost her pay by up to 20 percent, according to terms of a contract trustees approved Monday.

Ms. Gaber, the previous University of Arkansas provost, signed a five-year contract with UT. She assumes the presidency July 1.

Her $450,000 base salary places her on par with presidents at Kent State University and the University of Akron and above the $428,250 national median salary for public-college presidents, as calculated for 2014 by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

RELATED CONTENT: View a copy of Ms. Gaber’s contract

RELATED ARTICLE: UT budget passes with 2% bump in tuition, fees

She’ll also make more than former UT president Lloyd Jacobs. His contract, amended upon his resignation last year, continues to pay him the same $392,700 rate he made as president through June 30, 2017.

Initial base salaries of presidents of Ohio’s four-year universities range from $230,000 at Central State University to $800,000 at Ohio State University, but annual raises and bonuses can boost total pay considerably higher.

At Bowling Green State University, for example, President Mary Ellen Mazey started with a base salary of $375,000 annually when she signed her contract in 2011 and now makes $394,176.

UT officials looked at the presidential compensation offered by public Ohio universities when negotiating the contract.

“We wanted to ensure that we were competitive, but we were responsible, and it was reasonable,” said trustee Sharon Speyer, who the board on Monday voted as its next chairman. 


Ms. Gaber can receive a “performance incentive” of up to 20 percent of her salary if she meets goals set by the board.

She will receive $80,000 a year in deferred compensation for a supplemental retirement plan.

Ratification of the contract took place during the same meeting that the board approved the university’s 2016 fiscal year budget, which includes a 2 percent tuition hike for in-state undergraduate students.

The incoming president will be charged with growing enrollment, raising more private donations, improving student retention — all sources of additional revenue — as well as boosting the university’s profile by attracting high-profile faculty and others to the university, said outgoing board chairman Joseph H. Zerbey IV, president and general manager of The Blade.

“We believe that this investment in Dr. Gaber is going to pay super dividends. She will hit the ground running,” he said.

Ms. Gaber said she will raise money for student scholarships, faculty instruction and research, technology, and facilities.

“I understand fully the investment and high expectations appropriately placed on me to raise millions of dollars to benefit the students, employees, alumni, and supporters of the University of Toledo,” she said in a written statement regarding her contract.

Her 14-page contract also pays her expenses to move from Arkansas to Ohio, use of a new vehicle manufactured by a company based in the United States (she chose a Jeep Grand Cherokee), dues for educational conferences and conventions, entertainment and travel expenses during university business, and membership in the Toledo Club and Inverness Country Club.

Ms. Gaber’s three children will be eligible for a tuition waiver, should they choose to attend UT, that includes a three-year graduate program.

UT will pay for Ms. Gaber to attend one session of a President School program offered by Harvard University.

The new president will live in the new Ottawa Hills house purchased earlier this year by the UT Foundation for $922,000 in private funds. The foundation is spending about $272,000 to renovate it and make it wheelchair accessible. The contract states that UT will maintain the home and grounds and pay for utilities and telephone service.

When Ms. Gaber hosts guests at the home on behalf of the university, UT will provide cooking, catering, and housekeeping services. UT will furnish an office for the new president at the house.

Ms. Gaber, who received her doctorate in city and regional planning at Cornell University, will have tenure status as a professor in the Department of Geography and Planning. At the end of her presidential term, she may remain a tenured faculty member, making no less than $130,000. She is entitled to 25 paid vacation days a year.

Ms. Gaber must give a six-month notice to terminate the agreement.

Paying moving expenses, vehicle allowances, club memberships, and covering travel costs are commonplace in the contracts for presidents of Ohio’s four-year public universities.

Many presidents have provisions similar to those included in Ms. Gaber’s contract, though some agreements are tailed to the individual leader.

Sometimes, as in Ms. Gaber’s contract, presidential family members reap rewards from the contract through tuition waivers or other provisions.

Ohio University President Roderick McDavis’ spouse receives a $30,000 annual salary for entertaining and for assisting in activities on and off campus.

His children are entitled to an out-of-state tuition charge waiver for as long as he remains a full-time employee.

Former University of Toledo provost Scott Scarborough’s presidential contract with the University of Akron allows his children “to receive full undergraduate and graduate tuition and fee benefits” until they are 26 years old at any of Ohio’s 13 four-year public universities.

Travel expenses are typically covered, but some contracts specify extras.

Kent State University agreed to fly President Beverly Warren in the business class section (or higher when business class isn’t offered) for all flights that take three hours or longer.

Michael Drake, president of Ohio State University, inked into his contract that he and his spouse travel first class for trips made in the United States and business class for international travel. He also has access to a private jet through the university’s contract with NetJets.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: or 419-724-6065, or on Twitter @vanmccray.

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