Editor’s note: The Dayton Daily News is gathering payroll data for local governments across our region, as well as state government and public colleges, as part of our Payroll Project. You can search Payroll Project data here. We are gathering payroll data for 2018 and will add it to the database as it is collected. If you have a suggestion for our Payroll Project, email reporter Max Filby at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wright State University employed around 270 fewer people last year than it did in 2017 as positions were not filled in an attempt to rebuild the school’s troubled finances after years of overspending.
Wright State spent close to $164.6 million on payroll last year, $13 million less than it did the previous year, school records analyzed by the Dayton Daily News Payroll Project show. WSU administrators have long pursued attrition as a way to reduce spending at the school.
“Not only have we not filled the vacancies but we’ve eliminated a lot of the positions too,” said Walt Branson WSU chief business officer. “So, a lot of those vacancies don’t even sit on our books anymore.”
Wright State has been trying to claw its way out of a budget crisis for years. In fiscal year 2018, the school reduced spending by around $53 million and administrators have projected revenue to decline by around $10 million or so during the current fiscal year.
Attrition and the elimination of positions that went vacant has been an issue of contention between the administration and the Wright State chapter of the American Association of University Professors in recent years.
“There were a lot of savings there and I think there’s going to continue to be savings there,” said Martin Kich, president of the AAUP-WSU.
Kich, who is also a WSU Lake Campus English professor made $111,684 in 2018, around $6,533 more than the previous year. Faculty did not receive a raise in 2018 and Kich said his additional pay would have been due teaching an extra class and a stipend he received for outreach to high schools.
Around 1,315 Wright State employees made more than $50,000 in gross pay in 2018, the Dayton Daily News Payroll Project shows. That’s down from nearly 1,400 in 2017, according to payroll project records.
Included in the gross pay for employees are any bonuses, overtime payments and additional allowances, such as a $36,000 one president Cheryl Schrader receives for housing. Expense reports — often filed by WSU employees for costs associated with their work such as travel and conferences — are not included in gross pay, said Wright State spokesman Seth Bauguess.
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Though the number of employees on Wright State’s payroll declined in 2018, the amount of money the school spent on bonuses increased by a little more than $48,000.
The increase is largely due to a $44,566 bonus paid out to men’s basketball coach Scott Nagy in 2018. Nagy’s team won the Horizon League tournament before going on to lose to the University of Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
With his bonus, Nagy made $546, 477 in 2018, making him the highest paid Wright State employee. The second highest paid employee was Boonshoft School of Medicine Dean Margaret Dunn who brought in $518,199 in 2018 while Schrader made the third most at $483,000 last year.
Schrader was eligible for a 25 percent bonus of $106,250 last year. But, the board of trustees decided against offering Schrader a raise or bonus last year because of the university’s financial problems.
Most bonuses awarded in 2018 were likely required by an employee contract, Branson said.
Though it may make sense for some bonuses to be withheld because of Wright State’s financial problems there is no mechanism to do so, Branson said. Bonuses should be dealt with, Branson said, on a “case by case basis.”
“I think it depends what it’s for,” Branson said. “If it’s there for an incentive or some kind of extra work that they did then we should pay them.”
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