Education

Kentucky community college chief could get 70 percent increase in pay to $600K in 2 years

KCTCS President Jay Box
KCTCS President Jay Box

The Board of Regents of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System will consider giving President Jay Box a pay raise of $50,000 a year, along with $200,000 in deferred compensation, at its meeting on Friday.

The board will consider a recommendation by the KCTCS President’s Contract Review Committee that Box receive $100,000 in deferred compensation, “which accrues annually, with a 2-year vesting period.” If the board approves, Box will receive his current salary plus the $200,000 in deferred compensation if he stays in his job for two years, said Mary Hemlepp, a spokeswoman for the system.

Box’s contract ends in 2021.

Executive pay for the KCTCS president has previously been a contentious issue, with faculty complaining about the amount Box’s predecessor was paid when he retired.

Box’s current salary is $355,350, according to the Herald-Leader’s online KCTCS salary database and board documentation. His total compensation is $379,350, which includes a $24,000 auto allowance, according to a benefits analysis included in the Board of Regents packet.

Box has been president of the community college system since January 2015, when he replaced former KCTCS President Michael McCall. Box has been with KCTCS since 2002 and served as chancellor of the system between 2009 and 2015.

He “received a highly favorable evaluation” at the Board of Regents’ June meeting, and a committee was formed to evaluate his contract, according to minutes of the Contract Review Committee’s August meeting.

“All committee members reached the unanimous decision that President Box’s compensation and contract needed some revisions to recognize and reflect the significant work he has completed in his tenure,” according to the meeting minutes.

They noted accomplishments that included hiring new presidents for 15 of the 16 colleges in KCTCS.

The committee also said “that President Box has not received a raise in three years; the market has become increasingly competitive for top executive leaders, including college presidents; and, to help retain a proven leader, an institution has to be competitive with compensation and contract incentives such as executive supplements, retirement packages, and insurance.”

A compensation study included in board documentation indicates that Box’s current salary — without the pay raise and deferred compensation — is the fourth-highest out of 10 community college systems surveyed. The Maricopa Community Colleges had the highest-paid president of the 10, earning an annual salary of $413,000, while the lowest-paid of the 10 was the president of the Maine Community College System, who earns $170,000 a year.

The board is to consider the salary increase recommendation Friday at its meeting at Big Sandy Community and Technical College.

Provided he meets certain conditions, Box’s contract also stipulates that he is to receive long-term care insurance. The vice president of KCTCS has been tasked with getting price quotes, and the board chair has been authorized to negotiate with Box “regarding this contract provision, including suggesting alternative provisions or a buyout,” according to the minutes of the Contract Review Committee meeting.

The KCTCS president’s salary has been a touchy issue in past years.

In 2015, faculty called for McCall to forego the more than $300,000 salary his contract allowed him to draw for a year after he retired in return for duties he was to provide as “president emeritus.”

The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting later reported that McCall was paid a total of $815,740 in 2015. Aside from his consulting pay, McCall had received $352,066 for unused vacation days and $124,249 in deferred compensation.

Before his retirement, McCall was among the highest-paid community college presidents in the country, with a base salary of $328,326, a $78,000 bonus, a housing allowance of $90,000 and a car allowance of $43,000 a year.

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto in Lexington was among the highest-paid university presidents in the country last year, with $1.5 million in annual compensation, which included $688,198 he received in deferred compensation.

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