Fogel’s outgoing pay causes alarm

Not everyone thinks an outgoing president should be paid to leave. The faculty union United Academics (UA) sent a letter to the Board of Trustees conveying dismay and profound disappointment about the compensation package provided to former President Daniel Mark Fogel. As Fogel stepped down from his duties as president for the past decade, the Board of Trustees presented him with a 17-month compensation package amounting to over $410,000 in pay and benefits, according to UA’s website. UA, which represents more than 800 full and part-time faculty members, said they feel the package is very far from reasonable. UA president David Shiman said in his letter that the Board of Trustees, “should be ashamed and embarrassed,” to pay Fogel $27,000 a month plus other allowances for his administrative leave.  Fogel will return to the University as an English professor in 2013 with a future salary of $195,000, an amount the UA says is totally out of line with salaries paid to faculty members in the humanities. “His salary will be $80,000 more than the best-paid faculty member [in the English department] and $60,000 more than the highest-paid humanities faculty member, someone who has taught at UVM for over 40 years,” Shiman said. At a news conference on Aug. 10, Peter Shumlin said he felt that the compensation given to Fogel hurt the University. “There is real concern that at a time when Vermonters are struggling to pay tuition, to see these exorbitant payments made is just inexcusable,” Shumlin said. Shumlin, an inactive member of the Board of Trustees, suggested in a phone call to Fogel that he use some compensation money to set up a scholarship for students that cannot afford to attend UVM otherwise. Shumlin said that Fogel’s response “wasn’t favorable.” State Auditor Tom Salmon sent a letter of preliminary review to the Board of Trustees in order to investigate the situation. “We feel UVM is a precious asset to the state, and this is a serious, destabilizing event for the University,” Salmon said. He received a response from the Board of Trustees and is currently reviewing the severance package. “Our goal is to understand first, improve the process and hopefully improve the results,” Salmon said. The Board of Trustees responded directly to the criticism by releasing a statement from Chair Robert Cioffi. “[Former President] Fogel’s contract allows for a year long leave at his current salary, and the board has determined that an additional 5 months pay is reasonable under these circumstances,” Cioffi said. Cioffi also said that he is aware of the frustration that the severance package has caused, but the board was obliged to act in the best interests of the University. “I recognize that it’s a lot of money, but in the national marketplace for university  presidents it is not at all out of line,” he said. Cioffi said they made a decision that accommodated changing circumstances, considered an exceptional set of achievements and addressed the unusual personal circumstances. The UA also felt that the severance package was not appropriate in current economic times. During this economic climate, the University should be cutting back and trying to make adjustments, Shiman said. “It showed a lack of sensitivity where the staff is concerned, especially at a time when we were told there would be no salary increase next year,” he said. Some students also express concern for their professors and said that Fogel’s compensation package is disproportionate. “There are many deserving UVM staff members that will see no pay increase,” junior Bree Alvarado said.  “It is quite unfortunate.”