UK student protesters speak with President Capilouto on demands
University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto was the fourth highest paid college president in the country during 2018, collecting $1.5 million for leading Kentucky’s flagship state university, according to a recent report by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Capilouto’s base salary was $821,896 that year, but he also received a deferred compensation payout of $688,198 as part of a five-year retention plan. Under the plan, the university set aside $120,000 for Capilouto each year from 2014 to 2018, which he could collect if he was still president on July 1, 2018. That money was invested tax-free while deferred, producing additional earnings for Capilouto of $88,198, according to a statement by UK spokesman Jay Blanton.
Since then, Capilouto’s salary has continued to rise. Capilouto received a 2% raise in his base salary on July 1, bringing his current base salary to $838,334. That increase, as well as a 1.5% increase received in 2017, was the same percentage given to every non-health care UK employee during that time, according to UK spokesman Jay Blanton. Capilouto receives no other bonuses, according to the statement, which praised Capilouto’s performance.
But he will get more big payouts in 2020 and 2021 if he remains president of UK. The university has committed to setting aside an additional $178,000 in deferred compensation for Capilouto each year from 2016 to 2020. He can claim the payments made from 2016 to 2019 on June 30, 2020, and the 2020 payment on June 30, 2021, if he remains in his job.
Deferred compensation is a common strategy among universities looking to retain their highly-paid presidents, the Chronicle reported.
“As I said in 2016 when we examined President Capilouto’s compensation, we exist in a marketplace,” said Britt Brockman, chairman of the UK Board of Trustees. “Our board believes strongly that with Eli Capilouto, the University of Kentucky has made exceptional progress.”
“Consider the record of his eight years as president,” Brockman said. “UK’s highest ever retention and graduation rates; increasing first-year enrollment; more than $1 billion in private donations raised since 2013, with more and more being invested in our nationally recognized effort to reduce unmet financial need for students.”
Capilouto’s deferred compensation is what elevated him to fourth on the Chronicle’s 2018 ranking. When considering only base salary, Capilouto ranked 13th.
For fiscal year 2016-17, Capilouto ranked 19th in total compensation.
His base salary increased substantially in 2016, when the board of trustees gave him a 48% raise, taking his base salary to $790,000. As part of that deal, Capilouto lost exclusive use of a university vehicle and his opportunities for performance bonuses, according to Blanton.
Another name on the Chronicle’s list who will be familiar to Kentuckians was former University of Louisville president Gregory Postel, who finished 14th in the 2018 overall pay ranking and second in base salary. Postel was serving as interim president at the time and was a candidate to permanently take over the job, which instead went to Neeli Bendapudi. She ranks 123rd on the Chronicle’s list.
James Ramsey, U of L’s former president, whose resignation led to Postel taking the job, topped the total pay list for 2016-2017, after receiving a deferred compensation payment of over $4.2 million on his way out.