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Some perspective on UNC President Margaret Spellings’ $95,000 bonus

At its Friday meeting at UNC Wilmington, the UNC Board of Governors approved a $95,000 performance bonus for UNC President Margaret Spellings.

The bonus, approved after a closed session of more than two-and-a-half hours, will mean $50,000 in cash for Spellings and $45,000 in a retirement account.

Spellings is the first UNC president ever to have an incentive bonus (for meeting or exceeding expectations in her position) as part of her contract. That provision also netted her a $90,000 bonus last year. That’s on top of her $775,000 base salary — itself $175,000 more than her predecessor made annually.

Regular Policy Watch readers may remember that Spellings has been regularly butting heads with a particularly aggressive, conservative wing of the board. Among other things, the board is still considering moving the UNC system offices out of Chapel Hill and hiring its own dedicated staff, answerable to the board rather than the UNC president. Spellings has publicly questioned the need for both moves.

UNC Board member Tom Fetzer, who has personally crossed swords with Spellings a number of times over the last year, voted against the bonus payment. He and  former state lawmakers Thom Goolsby and Bob Rucho were the only dissenting votes.

Fetzer explained his reasoning to the News & Observer:

“I don’t think it was warranted,” he said. “At a base salary of $775,000, I think the tax paying citizens of North Carolina ought to be able to expect excellence in performance without having to add on a hundred grand a year. Also, if we’re serious about controlling the costs of higher education, this doesn’t help us achieve that.”

Policy Watch has reached out to a number of board members who voted for the bonus but has, as yet, been unable to reach them.

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