By James Steinbauer, Editorial Editor

Miami’s Board of Trustees want President David Hodge to know they appreciate his 11 years at the school, awarding him a salary increase and bonus with a combined worth of over $100,000.

On Friday, June 26, the trustees approved a resolution that authorized a 3 percent salary increase for Hodge. The increase brought his base salary to a total of $432,022 for the 2016 fiscal year.

In addition to the salary increase, the board awarded Hodge a bonus of $86,404 for 2016 fiscal year. In the past, Hodge has turned down his yearly bonus; however this year — his last at Miami as he plans to retire on June 30 — he chose to keep it as the spoils of 10 years’ service to Miami University.

Each fiscal year, the university determines whether it is able to provide salary increases for all faculty and staff and, based on the budget, how much. This year, that number was 3 percent.

“As Dr. Hodge has never accepted more than the percentage allotted to everyone, the Board recommended that amount,” said Deedie Dowdle, associate vice president of university communications.

A 2014 report by the Chronicle of Higher Education showed that last year Hodge received a bonus of $81,842 and a base pay of $409,209 making him the fifth highest paid public president in Ohio. At the time, Interim President Joseph Alutto of Ohio State University was the first with a base salary of $625,000.

Hodge’s current bump in bonus and salary is not unusual, according to Jack Stripling, a senior reporter at the Chronicle of Higher Education.

“The state of Ohio has a special place within the history of rising compensation among public college presidents,” Stripling said. “Ohio and Ohio State [University] in particular, is sort of ground zero for presidential compensation at public universities.”

In 2007, the notoriously high earner Gordon Gee was lured from Vanderbilt University to Ohio State to the tune of one million, creating a level of compensation competition between public and private universities that was largely unprecedented. In his final year at Ohio State, Gee earned $6,057,615.

Though it’s far from the norm, it is now routine to see a few public university presidents making over a million dollars a year; however, private universities still heavily outweigh public when it comes to presidential compensation.

The reason behind this is twofold, Stripling said.

For one, it’s a resource problem. Private colleges tend to have larger endowments to draw from. Miami knows this problem all too well, priding itself on being able to run efficiently on one of the smallest endowments in the state.

The other factor is public scrutiny. The boards that set compensations for presidents do so with the full knowledge that lawmakers, stakeholders and the public will ask questions if a president’s compensation is unseemly.

The funding for all Miami University employee salaries, including Hodge’s, comes from the same source: a combination of tuition, state funding and other revenues in the university’s total general fund of $471,080,314 for the 2016 fiscal year. Almost half of this — $191,489,834 — is allocated to salaries. The rest is set for benefits, scholarships, utilities and other expenditures.

According to Dowdle, the Board members conduct an annual review of a president’s performance to determine a bonus.

“In this instance, the trustees have been highly pleased with Dr. Hodge’s exceptional leadership,” she said.

Dowdle highlighted the university’s progress in its first year of the Miami 2020 plan, an increase in retention rates among both domestic and international students, the successful hiring of provost Phyllis Callahan and the new deans of the College of Arts and Science and College of Education Health and Society, Christopher Makaroff and Michael Dantley, as well as the quality of this year’s incoming class.

Though, according to Dowdle, Hodge’s raise was well-earned, some people are comparing Hodge to University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono who declined his yearly bonus for the third time in a row.

This year, Ono asked that his $200,000 bonus be gifted to 13 different scholarships, charities and student organizations. Ono also gave $10,00 of the bonus to the family of recently slain Cincinnati Police Officer Sony Kim.

Ono also rejected an increase to his base salary, which will remain at $520,000.

“Previously, Dr. Hodge has declined both pay raises and bonuses. He also took a voluntary 10-day furlough,” Dowdle said. “In his last year at Miami, the trustees felt strongly that Dr. Hodge deserved and should accept a salary increase and bonus for an exceptional job performance.”