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Compensation Committee finds arrangements with former President Wilson are consistent with standard higher education practice

BOSTON - Responding to Board of Trustees Chairman James J. Karam's request for a review, the Board's Compensation Committee today found that transition arrangements in place with former President Jack M. Wilson are consistent with University practice and with standard practice in the world of higher education.

The Compensation Committee reached that finding after being briefed by a national expert on higher education compensation, Raymond Cotton, a legal adviser to the University and a partner in the Mintz Levin law firm. Cotton is a nationally recognized expert on higher education compensation issues, having represented more than 250 college executives and university boards of trustees over the past 25 years.

Cotton told the Compensation Committee transition arrangements with former President Wilson, "are well within the established norms we see in higher education."

"The data in my study support the Board's view that the sabbatical benefit in Jack Wilson's employment agreement - both the length of it and the level of pay - are strictly within the norms of practice in higher education for large public universities," said Cotton.

"As for the salary Dr. Wilson will be earning upon his return to the faculty, my research and the data in my study support the view that his rate of pay will be well within in the range of what long-serving, successful presidents of comparable public universities receive when they step down and return to the faculty," Cotton added.

In addition to the specific arrangements with former President Wilson, the Committee also released an analysis done by the Nolan Financial Group on the salaries of the current key leaders of the University. The study compared the salaries paid to the leaders of the University of Massachusetts with those of peer institutions, using institutional classification guidance from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The Nolan Group study determined that the University's current key leaders' compensation all fall below the average when compared to the salaries earned by peers - with the salaries of three of the five Chancellors falling below the 20th percentile, an overall issue that Committee members said requires review.

Based on the expert testimony of Cotton and a review of his study and the Nolan Group study, the Compensation Committee affirmed that President Wilson's arrangements are consistent with high education practices.

"Based on this review and on the data provided to us, we can say with great confidence that the transition arrangements in place with former President Wilson are appropriate and are in keeping with best practices in the world of higher education," Karam said. "This is our finding and the finding of one of the nation's leading experts in this area. We believe that appropriate steps were taken and that we have arrived at an outcome that is fair to all parties."

"Jack Wilson was enormously successful during the eight years he served as President, is engaged on many fronts during this, his sabbatical year, and will make a major contribution when he fully assumes his faculty position at UMass Lowell," Chairman Karam added.

Karam said the Board will continue to regularly review best practices in the compensation area and with respect to other matters as well.

President Wilson stepped down on June 30, 2011, and will assume the position of Distinguished University Professor of Higher Education, Emerging Technologies and Innovation at UMass Lowell on July 1.  Wilson has been on earned sabbatical this academic year and has been serving on committees at UMass Lowell, will co-teach a course at UMass Lowell during the upcoming semester, has been assisting the campus with strategic planning efforts and has also been serving as interim president of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. In return for his services, the Kennedy Institute has been paying the University $14,000 per month.

In his remarks, UMass Trustee John A. DiBiaggio, who chairs the Compensation Committee, said: "In my view, all of these arrangements are perfectly within the scope of what is standard and typical within the higher education world and are particularly appropriate for someone who served with as much distinction and enjoyed the success that Jack Wilson did."

"By all accounts and by every measure, Jack Wilson ended his presidency with the University of Massachusetts standing much stronger because of his service. Whether we look at research funding, student credentials, fiscal stability, construction and renovation on the campuses, image and reputation, everything moved forward during President Wilson's tenure," said DiBiaggio, who during his career served as president of Tufts University, Michigan State University and the University of Connecticut.

Former President Wilson, who served as UMass vice president for academic affairs, as the founding chief executive officer of UMassOnline and on the faculty of universities including Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before assuming the UMass presidency, will have an extensive portfolio when he assumes his duties at UMass Lowell. Wilson will teach, conduct research, will work to strengthen campus links with business and industry and will work to encourage student and faculty innovation and entrepreneurial activity. Wilson will be paid $261,000 a year when he assumes his senior faculty position - a salary that represents the average of the salaries currently earned by the provosts at the University's Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth and Lowell campuses.

Contact: Robert P. Connolly, 617-548-0238


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