At a university as large as Ohio State — with 43, 630 employees — one might expect equally large paychecks to go to the institution’s top officials.
After all, OSU has a total endowment of $3.149 billion and had an annual payroll for all employees of $2.237 billion in 2012-13.
In 2012, then-President E. Gordon Gee said he didn’t apologize for large bonuses and paychecks to university employees.
“I’m not sorry, I feel very strongly that everyone at this institution should be paid well and right and should be paid according to how well they perform, ” Gee told The Lantern in April 2012. “We ought to take great pride in the fact that we have people performing at a very high level.”
Even after his retirement, it seems that line of thinking is still woven into the university’s operations.
Of 18 senior administrators, all earned a salary of more than $120, 000 in 2013, and eight had a salary of more than $400, 000. With bonuses and other compensation, many made even more.
Twelve of the administrators earned a bonus in 2013. These ranged from $19, 099 to $1, 460, 703, paid to Vice President for Student Life Javaune Adams-Gaston and Gee, respectively.
The Lantern requested 18 OSU senior administrators’ performance reviews for 2012 and 2013. Eight of the 18 administrators did not have performance reviews available for 2013, and at least two who were employed at the time did not have reviews available for 2012.
According to an OSU human resources performance review policy, “all employees must receive a performance review at least once a year.”
University spokesman Gary Lewis said he would be responding to all questions about the performance reviews. He provided a human resources document Tuesday with additional information on the distribution of bonuses for some administrators who did not receive written reviews.
Breaking down bonuses
Under OSU’s Performance and Retention Plan, not all bonuses are paid out in full immediately. Instead, 50 percent is paid in the following fiscal year and 50 percent is deferred until the employee’s contract term has expired.
Therefore, an employee might receive money in one year that is actually the culmination of past bonuses. On another note, if an employee leaves the university before their term is up, or breaks their contract, the deferred money goes back to the university.
While additional payments might be noted as bonuses, some are to fulfill the terms of an employee’s contract.
Monday, The Lantern reported on bonuses for some employees who did not receive written performance reviews in the year they received bonuses. Tuesday, Lewis provided The Lantern with a document with more information on bonuses for several administrators, including Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Senior Adviser to the President Christopher Culley.
Culley received an additional $691, 119 on top of his $555, 500 salary in 2013.
This additional payment consisted of a bonus from 2012, as well as distributions from his Performance and Retention Plan and deferred compensation account, as his contract term ended in October 2013.
Performance review logistics
While not all administrators had written performance reviews on file, Lewis said performance management, and the assurance that employees are reviewed yearly, go beyond the written review.
“Although it is required for all employees to receive reviews, performance management at Ohio State also involves a continuous process of feedback and mentoring, which includes verbal and written reviews, ” Lewis said in an email Monday. “All elements of performance review, verbal and written, are key inputs in determining compensation.”
He said the performance review process was adjusted because the university is in a period of change.
“This year’s process for performance reviews of senior leaders was one in transition. Because every senior leader participates in the ongoing, annual review process, all leaders expect to receive helpful coaching and feedback.”
The Lantern requested the performance reviews and other records including travel budgets Jan. 23, and the request was filled March 24.
The performance reviews focus both on looking ahead and reflecting on past accomplishments of each reviewed personnel. This is the second article in a series of three, and keys in on six members of the administration.
Senior Vice President for Advancement Michael Eicher
Eicher earns $714, 000 annually, and earned a $300, 000 bonus in FY 2013. That bonus is set to be paid in two installments, allowing Eicher to pocket half in FY 2014 and deferring half until the end of his contract term.
The amount of Eicher’s bonus was determined per his employment contract, according to an HR document from Lewis.
Eicher joined the university Nov. 1, 2012, to oversee efforts involving fundraising, alumni relations and communications, as well as leading OSU’s $2.5 billion “But for Ohio State” campaign.
In Eicher’s performance review dated September 2013, Alutto said Eicher had spent his first months on campus “observing, building, understanding and laying the foundation.”
To further this, Alutto called on Eicher to continue focusing on developing his leadership team and planning for campaign management, along with some additional recommendations.
“Do not be shy to speak out on topics you are not an expert in or those that do not apply to Advancement, ” Alutto wrote. “It is time for you to focus on integration with other senior leaders and this is a way to build those relationships.”
Alutto also said he has “not been impressed with the recent hires nor the quality of work” in the communication piece of Advancement, and his “expectation is that (Eicher) will continue to be involved with improving their performance.”
As he was hired in late 2012, Eicher did not receive a performance review in that year.
Wexner Medical Center CEO Dr. Steven Gabbe
Gabbe was paid a $123, 138 bonus in 2013, on top of his $861, 492 annual salary. Gabbe earned that bonus in the previous year.
In FY 2013, Gabbe earned a $185, 812 bonus, and is set to be paid half that amount in FY 2014, with the other half deferred until the end of his contract. That bonus equals about 22 percent of Gabbe’s base pay.
OSU announced in February that Gabbe intends to step down from his position as Wexner Medical Center CEO in December, or as soon as a replacement is named. He is slated to remain a senior vice president through June 2015, after which he will return to the faculty, according to an email to faculty and staff from Alutto.
Alutto commended Gabbe for exceeding his “Board-mandated financial targets” in several areas in his 2013 performance review.
“You and your team have been working diligently to bring the new hospital in on time and within the stated budget, ” Alutto wrote. “Your leadership in these areas has been greatly appreciated.”