UK's Todd turns down bonus

University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. has turned down a $168,000 performance bonus offered by the university's Board of Trustees.

Based on the annual performance rating of 96 percent he received from the board's executive committee Monday, Todd was entitled to $168,000 out of a possible $175,000, UK spokesman Jimmy Stanton said.

"I appreciate the Board of Trustees' strong expression of support for the progress and accomplishments of the past year, but it has been yet another very challenging year from a budget standpoint, and I am simply not comfortable accepting the performance award at a time when every department on campus is dealing with severe budget reductions," Todd said in a written statement.

In its annual budget approved in June, UK eliminated 81 positions to help cope with a $9.4 million budget shortfall. Faculty and staff salaries were frozen for the second year in a row.

Todd receives an annual base salary of $304,010, plus an additional $50,000 for his role as chairman of the UK Athletics Association and the UK Research Foundation.

Steve Branscum, vice chairman of the executive committee, commended Todd for his decision.

"He is very sincere and concerned with all the budget constraints that we have not been able to put any raises in for the faculty and staff. That's the type of person he is," Branscum said. "It's his money. He deserved it and earned it."

Last year, Todd declined to accept part of his bonus. He directed that $50,000 of his $145,500 bonus go toward university programs, leaving him with $449,010 compensation.

The choice not to forego the entire bonus last year caused "a good deal of consternation among faculty," said faculty trustee Ernie Yanarella.

Giving up the entire bonus this year "was the right thing for the president to do," he said. "If an administration is going to call for common sacrifice ... that burden of sacrifice needs to be shared across the board."

Ryan Smith, president of the UK Student Government Association and student body representative on the Board of Trustees, said Todd's decision "shows that he is in touch with what's going on."

"I was extremely impressed," he said.

Median annual pay and benefits for public university presidents was $427,400 in 2007-08, according to data released last year by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

UK also announced Monday that enrollment is up slightly over last year and that the university received a record number of applications.

Preliminary enrollment figures put the freshman class at 4,145, up from 4,110 last year.

UK received 12,195 applications from prospective freshmen this year, up 10 percent from last year's record of 11,120.

Minority enrollment is also on the rise. UK reported having 1,774 black students, up 9 percent from last year.

Total enrollment at UK is 27,102, compared to 26,913 last year.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader