New president’s salary brings unease


ALEK FLEURY/The Vermont Cynic

President Suresh Garimella delivers an opening statement at his public Q&A February, 14 2019. He will took on the position of president July 1.

Lee Hughes, Assistant News Editor

Suresh Garimella was confirmed as the new University president, but his offered income has raised concerns.

Garimella will earn an income of $630,000 a year, according to a Feb. 22 Vermont Digger article.

His base salary will be $480,000, and he will earn $50,000 in deferred compensation and $100,000 in a retirement plan, the article stated.

Garimella’s base salary will be higher than current University President Tom Sullivan’s salary.

Sullivan’s base salary for the 2018-19 school year was listed as $446,429, according to a UVM base pay list.

After three years as president, Garimella will be able to draw on the deferred compensation account.

The account will have accumulated $50,000 per year from when he begins his position, Communications Director Enrique Corredera stated in a Feb. 24 email to the Cynic.

The board of trustees will contribute $100,000 to Garimella’s “nonqualified deferred compensation plan,” which operates like a retirement contribution after each year as president, he stated.

This funding is to promote longevity and incentivize fulfillment of the board’s expectations, Corredera stated.

United Academics, the faculty union, posted a meme to its Facebook page Feb. 23 in response to the new president’s proposed salary.

“Tell me again how UVM can’t afford the humanities but can pay the new prez $630,000 a year,” the meme states, over a picture of Willy Wonka.

Sophomore Cobalt Tolbert, a member of the Coalition for Faculty and Student Rights, said the coalition is upset by the compensation Garimella is receiving.

Tolbert said the pay is particularly upsetting since it comes along with the UVM community having less say in the next president than in past searches.

“Coalition members are outraged about this happening right when the administration is insisting they are tight on money,” he said. “Suffice it to say, this is an insult added to the injury of a decidedly undemocratic process.”

Sarah Alexander, associate English professor and president of United Academics, the faculty union, believes that the salary Garimella is being promised is too high.

“It seems absolutely unconscionable,” Alexander said. “It is so much in excess of what the current president is compensated.”

Garimella’s compensation is considered mid-range to comparable institutions, Corredera stated.

“These elements of compensation are typical for presidents of national universities,” Corredera stated. “Garimella’s compensation is in the approximate mid-range of comparable institutions.”