Purdue University’s trustees have extended President Mitch Daniels’ contract – but for how long is uncertain.
Starting in the 2021 fiscal year, Daniels will be on a year-to-year deal, with his compensation slated to stay at 2020 levels.
That includes a $300,000 “retention bonus” for each year he stays president.
Trustee Sonny Beck proposed the idea of continuing to increase Daniels’ annual bonus -- he’s currently in the third year of a five-year deal that will net him an extra $1 million in salary.
But Trustee Don Thompson says Daniels disagreed with that idea and so it wasn’t pursued.
As for how long he’ll get the $300,000 bonuses, Daniels says he’s not sure.
“I’ll liken it in a way to our constant tuition policy – we’ll just take it a year at a time,” Daniels says.
Under the new contract, the president or the board must give at least a year’s notice if the agreement will not be renewed by either party.
Each of the one-year contracts will pay Daniels about $900,000 annually.
He'll be 72 years old when the first 12 months of the year-to-year contract expire in June of 2021 – that’s seven years older than the mandatory retirement age for most high-ranking school officials, as stated in Purdue bylaws.
But the former governor says he thinks the school should rethink that policy.
“I think it is something that the board ought to talk about in a more general way," he says. "Right now there have been a number of exceptions, but we will probably have to make more as some of our deans, who are very vital, get close to that traditional age.”
Trustees have repeatedly lauded Daniels’ performance, and have taken back very little of the so-called “at risk” pay that’s built into his current agreement.
Trustee Tom Spurgeon, speaking during a conference call, says he wants the new contract language to entice Daniels to stay.
“We now seek to ensure that he remains available into the foreseeable future to provide continuing leadership to the University,” Spurgeon told the group.
According to data from the Chronicle of Higher Education, Daniels’ $900,000 pay package will likely make him among the top 20 highest-paid public school presidents in the nation, and puts him in at least the top half of Big Ten Conference executives.
Including bonuses and other incentives, at least the presidents of Penn State, Ohio State, Iowa and Indiana University make more than Purdue’s president.