LINCOLN — University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds, who is departing in August, received thanks Friday in words and cash.
The NU Board of Regents agreed to give Bounds $300,000 in privately funded deferred compensation after he put in almost 4½ years on the job. Bounds and his family are leaving in mid-August. He will teach graduate students at the University of South Alabama.
Technically, Bounds was entitled to a portion of the $300,000 in deferred payouts only after five years of work as the NU system’s president. He arrived in April 2015, and August 2019 is four years and four months later. The regents decided that he deserved the deferred compensation anyway.
His base pay is $510,400, plus a $20,000 supplement from the NU Foundation, plus a vehicle allowance of $9,600 that he received in cash. The total, then, is $540,000.
The regents spoke highly of Bounds, giving him a formal “resolution of recognition.”
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“Everything that he did put students’ interests first,” Regents Chairman Tim Clare of Lincoln said. The regents will bestow “president emeritus” status on Bounds.
Bounds, 51, came to Nebraska from Mississippi, where he was the commissioner of the Mississippi State Institutions of Higher Learning.
He announced in March that he would resign. He said that the job had been a grind and that he and his family would return to the South.
Although some speculated that there must have been more to his resignation, his relationship with his bosses — the regents — appeared sound. Regent Howard Hawks of Omaha said Bounds had his “deepest admiration and respect.”
Bounds received a standing ovation and lengthy applause during the meeting.
Bounds thanked the regents for “the experience of a lifetime” and called the job a special opportunity for the next president.
If anything, he seemed tired of annually battling for what he considered to be NU’s share of the state money pie. Three times he had to oversee cuts, although this year, the Legislature and Gov. Pete Ricketts agreed to give NU a 3% increase in state funding.
Rod McDavis, a former Ohio University president who represents the consulting firm that will assist in NU’s presidential search, told the regents that it’s “a very robust and positive market.”
Nevertheless, presidential salaries are going up every year, said McDavis, of AGB Search. Base salaries for major university chancellors and presidents are $800,000 to $1.2 million a year, and that doesn’t include deferred compensation and other extras, he said.
Quality comes at a price, he said. Clare said the regents are “not going to settle” for lesser quality in a president.
McDavis said AGB Search has participated in “listening sessions” with various Nebraska constituencies to determine what they desire in a president. More of those sessions will take place this summer, he said.
He said his that firm would start contacting possible candidates in late July and that he hoped that the search would conclude in December.
In other action, the Board of Regents:
- Appointed more than 20 people to serve on the committee that will help recruit NU’s next president. Regent Jim Pillen of Columbus was named chairman. Former UNL Faculty Senate President David Woodman said that he was disappointed that only two faculty members are on the search committee and that he feared that faculty views are being neglected. Besides the two professors, there are some deans and administrators on the committee.
- Agreed to partner with several other state entities to create a joint organization called NSWERS, which will gain access to student information to discover policies and practices that improve academic and career outcomes for students.
- Gave the go-ahead for the creation of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Center for Heart and Vascular Research. The center will be designed to enhance research that will improve cardiovascular health. The cost, to be paid with College of Medicine money and research grants, will be $8.05 million over five years.
- Said yes to buying property at 609 S. 48th St. in Omaha for $4.1 million. The parcel is next to properties purchased five years ago and provides a way to connect UNMC-owned properties from Farnam to Jones Streets.