Below is the press release the University of Alaska sent out today about President Pat Gamble calling on the Board of Regents to review his retention bonus, which he called “the elephant in the room.” He’d like to “put this issue to rest,” he said. In other words, it sounds like he’s asking the regents to rescind the bonus, which has gotten lots of negative attention and would likely be used in an upcoming political race, or two, or ten.
University of Alaska President Pat Gamble has requested the 11-member Board of Regents revisit the issue of a $320,000 retention incentive approved in June.
The board is scheduled to gather in a special meeting Sept. 8 in Anchorage, largely to meet in executive session to discuss financial and budgetary issues. However, Gamble said he anticipates the regents will take another look at the retention incentive, which would be payable at the end of his current three-year contract in May 2016.
The timing of the retention incentive, while offered with good intentions, has been difficult to justify in the public eye as UA works to meet current and expected budgetary and enrollment challenges, Gamble said. It comes at a time when higher education nationally is undergoing rapid change, as students and parents expect greater results, more efficiency and more accountability from public colleges and universities. The retention incentive has become a negative distraction at a time when there is a great need for all levels of the university community to pull together, Gamble said.
“I very much appreciate the board’s support, but this issue will remain the elephant in the room every time we meet with faculty, staff, a donor or a legislator,” Gamble said. “The decision ultimately is up to the board, but the timing isn’t right and I think the board is very sensitive to that now.”
Gamble made the remarks during a noon presentation of the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce today. He said he couldn’t predict what the board will do, but feels certain the board will consider the situation with the public sentiment in mind.
The regents approved the retention incentive at the June 5-6, 2014 meeting. It was intended to reward performance, with a powerful inducement for Gamble to remain on the job through the end of his contract in May 2016 and to continue forward momentum on the Shaping Alaska’s Future initiative.
“I’d like to put this issue to rest, and for myself, my administration, all of our campus leaders and the regents to focus on the tough tasks ahead, moving the University of Alaska into a stronger, more efficient and highly effective student-centered institution that is worthy of the highest expectations of Alaskans,” Gamble said