Wright State University president Cheryl Schrader was not offered a raise or bonus on Monday by the school’s board of trustees following her one-year evaluation by a four-member executive committee.
But, a release issued Wednesday from the university stated “Schrader would not accept” either for her work in the past year. Clarifying the issue later, WSU board chairman Doug Fecher, who said he helped write and review the release, said, “There was no vote taken and it wasn’t meant to imply that” the president turned down a bonus offer.
Schrader’s base pay is $425,000 and she is eligible for a 25 percent bonus of $106,250 annually, according to her contract. She was also eligible for a merit raise of an unspecified amount, according to her contract.
Schrader took office on July 1, 2017 after signing a five-year contract that includes a possible two-year extension, according to a copy of it provided by the university.
“Everyone at Wright State has had to sacrifice,” Schrader said in a prepared statement. “As we keep on track financially, rebuild reserves and work toward increasing revenue, those things will take care of themselves.”
The executive committee of the the WSU board, which included Fecher, former board chairman Michael Bridges, Anuj Goyal and Grace Ramos, met behind closed doors with Schrader on Monday to discuss an evaluation of her first-year performance.
Schrader was not offered a merit raise or bonus because of the university’s financial troubles, Fecher said.
In June 2017, trustees slashed more than $30 million from Wright State’s fiscal year 2018 budget and another $10-million decline in revenue is expected over the coming year. Just last week, the university announced it would begin issuing layoff notices to around 26 employees.
“There was no change in compensation offered and she agreed there should be no (additional) compensation offered,” Fecher said.
The Dayton Daily News requested public records about the evaluation and was told by the university there were no written documents from the meeting. Trustee Bruce Langos also said that he was not aware of a formally documented evaluation.
Fecher said the evaluation was more of a conversation. Fecher said he contacted trustees separately before the Monday meeting to get their opinion of Schrader’s performance and ideas for what she could improve upon.
Langos said he was “shocked” when he saw the release sent by the school that stated Schrader did not accept a raise or bonus, because he said it made it sound like the board offered her one.
Although the university may not be in a financial position to offer Schrader a raise, Langos said it’s something the entire board should have discussed and voted on publicly.
“I don’t think any laws were broken but I don’t think the rules or the bylaws (of the board) were followed because the bylaws require that things like this require (a vote). And we didn’t take a vote,” Langos said.
The executive committee cannot take action in executive sessions, meaning any action such as a vote for or against a raise for Schrader would need to be taken in a public session.
The Ohio Open Meetings Act states that members of a public body are required to “discuss and deliberate on official business only in open meetings.” How Wright State’s board handled Schrader’s evaluation falls into a “gray area” of the law, said Dan Tierney, spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
“Our advice is always consult your legal counsel in such a gray area and then decide whether they would be comfortable defending that or not,” Tierney said.
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