President of UW gets $590,000 pay package

By Sharon Pian Chan
Seattle Times staff reporter


The University of Washington will pay new president Mark Emmert $590,000 a year and a one-time signing bonus of $160,000, making him the highest-paid state employee after the UW football coach.

The package matches his salary at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he served as chancellor.

Three weeks after they introduced Emmert as the next president, members of the UW Board of Regents yesterday approved his compensation package and appointment as professor in the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs.

Emmert's base compensation will be $470,000 a year, plus an annual bonus of $120,000 deferred for five years. He will receive the bonuses, totaling $600,000, at the end of the five years. If he leaves before then, he won't receive any of that money.

If the regents terminate him for reasons other than a breach of contract or faculty-rules violation, he will receive the balance of his accrued bonuses.

Gerald Grinstein, president of the board, said negotiations "went smoothly" and that the three-week delay between Emmert's introduction and the contract's approval was the result of busy travel schedules.

Mark Emmert

Emmert's compensation package which includes moving expenses, a $1,000 monthly car allowance, use of the president's house, club memberships and meals provided by the university puts him among the 12 highest-paid presidents at public universities in the country, according to a survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

All of his salary will come from university funds. Thirty-six percent of his base compensation will be from state appropriations, and 64 percent will come from other university accounts, including interest income, administrative overhead income, tuition and miscellaneous fees. Those accounts will also fund his bonuses.

He can also make outside income by consulting or sitting on the boards of private companies, subject to approval of the regents president.

At LSU, Emmert received $490,000 a year, plus a $100,000 annual retention bonus. Because he is leaving before 2007, he will have to repay the bonuses he has received since 2002.

"I don't have too much of a problem as long as it doesn't affect me too much, like if the tuition goes up," said Lawrence Lim, a UW sophomore, about Emmert's new salary. "It kind of seems like a lot of money. Does the president of the U.S. even get paid that much?" (No.)

Emmert will make 45.7 percent more than Lee Huntsman, who has served as president since Richard McCormick resigned. The regents encouraged McCormick to leave in November 2002 after an extramarital affair with a woman in his administration.

When McCormick was hired, the university bought his house in North Carolina. The regents said they had no plans to do the same for Emmert, who owns a house in Florida.

Emmert won't have the highest salary at the UW. Top pay goes to UW football coach Keith Gilbertson, whose compensation, including incentives and bonuses, adds up to $870,000.

Henry Levin, director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Columbia University, said the rising pay for public-university presidents "makes me jealous, as a faculty member. But on the other hand, from a personal point of view, those are tough, tough jobs. There are so many constituencies."

The regents expect Emmert to wring more money from the Legislature for higher education and to elevate the UW's national status to that of a top-tier research university.

Levin said the UW might be seeking to raise its status by paying more for its president.

"It's one of those universities that has some wonderful departments but it also has some weaknesses," said Levin. "It's between a standard state university and one in the upper tier. And my guess is (the regents) want to pull it into the upper tier."

Regent Dan Evans, a former governor and U.S. senator, said: "As time has gone by since we hired McCormick, inflation has gone up and the competitive situation has changed.

"(Emmert is) running a huge, $2.5 billion operation. The UW is a much bigger institution (than LSU), and we're paying him the same."

In an earlier interview, Emmert said, "I think what people will have to see and make their own judgment on is whether my performance and success in that position is what they expect."

Emmert's official start date is June 14 but the regents told him to take a four-week paid vacation before he takes office in July.

Seattle Times reporter Steve Miletich contributed to this report.

Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or



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