News: CJ Exclusives

Spellings gets $90K ‘incentive’ bonus from Board of Governors

Bonus, based on 'performance goals,' was part of contract signed with UNC and is on top of $775,000 salary

UNC President Margaret Spellings can receive as much as $125,000 a year in bonuses as part of her employment contract, the Board of Governors said Friday. (CJ photo by Don Carrington)
UNC President Margaret Spellings can receive as much as $125,000 a year in bonuses as part of her employment contract, the Board of Governors said Friday. (CJ photo by Don Carrington)

CHAPEL HILL — UNC President Margaret Spellings has garnered $90,000 in bonus pay after just one year on the job.

The money — in addition to her base salary of $775,000 (plus a travel allowance) — is an incentive for accomplishments since she settled into her Chapel Hill offices last March, members of the UNC Board of Governors said Friday.

“Based on the Board’s assessment of the President’s excellent performance in her first year of service, including her skill in leading the development of a new strategic plan and other performance considerations, the Board has authorized an incentive award payment of $90,000 for 2016-2017,” reads a fact sheet that was distributed among board members during their March 3 meeting.

Half the money will go immediately to Spellings. The other half will be deposited in a retirement account.

Spellings’ bonus isn’t a one time deal. UNC’s five-year contract with the former U.S. secretary of education — effective since March 1, 2016 — requires the board to develop a policy for incentive pay.

The board agreed to pay Spellings up to $125,000 in yearly incentives should she meet “performance goals grouped into broad categories relevant to the University of North Carolina’s strategic plan and priorities.”

During a meeting with reporters, Carolina Journal asked board Chairman Lou Bissette to clarify those performance goals. He said the board still is working to set exact metrics.

“The metrics are gonna be based on our strategic plan. And if you go back and you look at the access and the affordability goals, the student success goals, those are going to be defined,” he said.

UNC’s strategic plan is intended to improve student access, performance, affordability and efficiency, economic impact, and diversity across the system.

Increasing the rates of student graduation or retention are just a couple examples of how the board will measure Spellings’ performance, Bissette added.

“You’ve gotta have goals that are measurable, and that’s what we’ve been working on with the strategic plan.” UNC Board of Governors Chairman Lou Bissette on March 3, 2017, during a press conference to discuss incentive pay bonuses for system President Margaret Spellings. (CJ Photo by Kari Travis)

“There will be a [reward] percentage allocated to each particular goal.”

The board will work on assigning specific measurements before its May 19 meeting, Bissette said.

Spellings’ bonus will be paid on May 31 each year.

She is eligible for annual salary increases in addition to incentive pay.

Spellings left the board meeting before the press conference.

The board would like to enact incentive pay for others beside the president, Bissette said.

“Pay will be based on the performance — I think that’s the philosophy of our board. We would like to get to that with our senior management team and perhaps someday with our chancellors. But it’s a long hard process to get there. We’re starting with the president,” he said.