Trustees approve performance-based incentive pay for Easter

President’s compensation tied to goals

URBANA, Ill. — The University of Illinois Board of Trustees took a fresh approach toward presidential compensation Thursday when it approved a performance-measured incentive compensation plan for U of I President Robert Easter.

The board’s action reflects a move away from retention incentives for senior administrators in higher education that tend to make longevity a premium rather than results.

Chairman Christopher Kennedy said the new program serves the best interests of both the University and taxpayers, linking compensation to progress toward specific goals that advance the University and its educational, research and public service missions.

He said the program establishes a clear vision of what the board expects of the president, provides feedback to promote personal development, and strengthens the relationship between the board, president and University community.

“The program sets a tangible measure for performance and provides rewards based on achieving those goals,” Kennedy said. “Trustees are very pleased with President Easter’s work in his first year, and his contributions to our University and our state.”

The performance-based approach has been adopted for top executives in industry and by other public universities, including the University of Texas system and Purdue University.

In July, the board extended Easter’s original two-year term by a year, through June 30, 2015, but delayed a decision on pay while the Executive Committee developed the new compensation program.

He will receive a $90,000 payment under the new compensation program, based on his work toward goals such as operational efficiency and cost containment; establishing recruiting and enrollment strategies; increasing student and vendor diversity; implementing strategies to increase private giving; and creating economic growth for the state and the region. Under the new annual program, Easter had been eligible to receive up to $100,000.

Easter’s base salary also will increase from $450,000 to $462,375, effective Aug. 16, 2013, matching the average 2.75 percent merit-based increase under the University’s fiscal 2014 salary program.

With the increases, Easter’s total compensation still ranks in the bottom half among presidents of Big Ten universities, up from the bottom third.

“I have long been a proponent of creating clear expectations and recognizing them when they are achieved,” said Easter, a faculty member and administrator on the Urbana campus for nearly 40 years before he became president in July 2012. “I am pleased that the Board of Trustees is providing this opportunity.”

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The University of Illinois is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 77,000 students, 24,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.