President M. Roy Wilson received an extension to his contract with a 5-3 vote at Wayne State’s Board of Governors meeting on Dec. 7. The contract extends Wilson’s term until 2023, including a pay raise.
Multiple board members voiced their concerns regarding Wilson’s administration’s lack of transparency and the fact that the board was presented the contract three days before the meeting.
“No doubt we have had successes since we’ve hired Roy,” said Board Chair Sandra Hughes O’Brien, who voted against Wilson’s extension. “I take no pleasure in the statement I am about to take.”
O’Brien said the contract extension was not put into the BOG’s agenda, and there was no mention of this extension at the agenda review meeting two weeks prior.
“Three days ago I had received a draft (of his contract extension) and I have not yet participated in negotiating these terms,” she said. “I have numerous questions regarding our failure to include pertinent provisions that need to be considered in order to protect the university.”
O’Brien and Dana Thompson — who also voted against the extension — said they want time to review Wilson’s contract to ensure there is no wrongdoing or malpractice on his part.
Referring to the Larry Nassar sexual assault incident at Michigan State University with President Lou Anna Simon — who is facing criminal charges, according to The Detroit News — the BOG does not want a golden parachute situation with Wilson. A golden parachute refers to an agreement between an employer and employee that promises substantial benefits granted to an employee upon termination, according to The Corporate Finance Institute.
Governor Marilyn Kelly said she doesn’t believe there is a golden parachute and voted in favor of Wilson’s contract extension.
“If they decide they don’t like this contract, they can change it. It only takes five votes,” Kelly said. “In no way is there a golden parachute in this contract.”
Board members Michael Busuito and Thompson said the main reason they didn’t approve of the contract extension due to the of lack of time given to the members to review this extension.
“It wouldn’t be a vote of confidence, we have a year to review this, so I don’t see a need to rush this (decision),” Busuito said.
Busuito said making this decision is not fair to incoming BOG members, Bryan Barnhill and Anil Kumar, because they have no say in the matter.
Wilson’s salary, which wasn’t available to the board, was also questioned. According to AAUP-AFT local 6075’s annual salary guide, Wilson made $511,910 in 2017.
According to The Detroit News, Wilson was hired in 2013 with a five-year contract that called for a $470,000 salary in the first year, $483,000 the second year and $497,000 the third. He was to be paid a $50,000 bonus at the end of his contract.
“It is mind-boggling to me on that a cabinet member can’t live off of $200,000,” O’Brien said. “I worry that some of these administrators and consultants are so out of touch with the reality on the ground that they fail to recognize that most Detroit households make $10,000 annually and don’t drive Mercedes and Teslas.”
Other points of discussion at the BOG meeting were:
- BOG approved the fiscal year 2020-2024 five-year capital outlay plan, which outlines work-in-progress projects.
- The board’s line of credit was increased from $35 million to $50 million for six years, which allows the university to meet short-term cash needs.
- Student Senate President Stuart Baum outlined completed and in-progress project groups that aim to improve student life, increase academic success and improve facilities.
- WSU announced as the largest rate of improvement increase in the nation of public universities with more than 10,000 students in the years 2011-2016.
- BOG paid tribute to outgoing board members Diane Dunaskiss and David Nicholson and established scholarships in their honor. BOG-elects Bryan Barnhill and Anil Kumar will take their seats in January.
- $9.5 increase increase for STEM Innovation Center was approved.
- Graduate students voiced concern about campus guest policies and housing during public comments.
Susana Hernandez is The South End’s WSU Board of Governors and campus housing beat reporter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.