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Some object but UK trustees vote to give Capilouto pay raise

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University of Kentucky
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In a show of support, the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees has granted president Eli Capilouto a large and controversial pay raise. Arlo Barnette reports.

With a roughly $200,000 addition, Dr. Capilouto’s base pay is now set to exceed a million dollars ($1,035,646). The board said in a release that it’s an average of the two highest paid SEC public university presidents’ salaries, plus 10 percent. Chair Robert Vance wrote that they want to send a signal that they are strongly behind the leader and his vision for UK and Kentucky.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the pay increase passed on Tuesday was opposed by the board’s two faculty trustees, Lee Blonder and Hollie Swanson. Swanson cited the ever-widening gap in compensation between administrators and the rest of campus. Blonder said the salary boost would send a poor message in light of tornado recovery efforts, saying “Our students, faculty and staff have been struggling.”

Vance justified the raise by touting the school’s progress in the last ten years and while navigating the pandemic under Dr. Capilouto’s leadership, including records being set in enrollment, retention, graduation, and research money spending. He said the proposal is consistent with what they have done before, with the goal of ensuring stability and continuity in leadership.

The measure also added annual retention payments to Dr. Capilouto’s contract and modified the agreement so there is always a minimum of three years remaining on his term. It further stipulates that if he steps down as president, he will remain employed for an additional two years to continue work on behalf of UK at the discretion of the board.