Editorial: Timing of BGSU bonus wrong
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel-Tribune Editor   
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 11:02
Editor_Jan.4178_story
Jan Larson McLaughlin
Timing is everything - and not just for comedians and musicians.
Timing is also critical when dealing with salary costs and job cuts. And something just seems wrong about the timing of both at Bowling Green State University.
Here is a brief timeline.
In February, BGSU administrators announced plans to cut 100 faculty positions. The reasons for the cuts were declining enrollment, loss of state funding and high faculty-student ratios.
When the dust settled from the cuts, 73 non-tenure track faculty were let go.
In June, the BGSU trustees voted to bump up tuition 2 percent. The decision kept BGSU in its ranking as third most expensive university for tuition and general fees of Ohio's 13 public higher education institutions. That brought the average annual cost of fees and tuition to $10,590 - behind the University of Cincinnati at $10,784 and Miami University at $13,726.
The increase was cited as necessary due to the $3 million decrease in state funding this year.
In October, the BGSU board of trustees voted to hire an international management consultant to study where expenses could be trimmed at the university. The objective was to keep tuition as low as possible for students.
In a letter, BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey wrote the consultant will be asked to "evaluate the current state of the university's operating structure" and "identify and recommend measurable, attainable, realistic opportunities to streamline operations both in the short term and the long term."
The price tag for the consultation was just shy of $500,000.
Then last week, BGSU announced more faculty cuts - this time another 30 non-tenure track employees.
All those decisions - unfortunate though they may seem - were moving BGSU in the direction of running a more trim and efficient institution.
It appeared that BGSU was committed to keep costs down for students ... and their parents.
But in the middle of those cost cutting measures, something happened that just didn't fit.
In October, the trustees approved a 2-percent pay hike for Mazey, boosting her salary to $390,274. The raise was consistent with a pay hike given to other university staff.
But Mazey's pay hike seemed to go against the university's new penny-pinching efforts when she was given a $50,000 bonus in addition to her annual raise.
At a Faculty Senate meeting on Tuesday, Mazey for the first time defended the bonus as part of her contract when she accepted the job at BGSU.
But contracts change to meet the needs of the time - just ask BGSU faculty.
To many local residents, that one-time bonus is well over the amount they earn in their paychecks for an entire year - including many of the faculty who lost their jobs.
The timing just seemed wrong and insensitive - in the midst of faculty cuts, tuition increases and waste identifying efforts.
In fact, during the most recent round of faculty cuts BGSU Provost Rodney Rogers said, "President Mazey has made a commitment to do what we can to manage any kind of increase in the cost of higher education."
I have an idea where the institution could have saved $50,000.
 

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