Kirwan to get $100,000 a year beyond salary as chancellor

Payment meant to offset interrupted state pension

May 25, 2002|By Alec MacGillis | Alec MacGillis,SUN STAFF

William E. Kirwan, the state's new universities chancellor, will earn $100,000 per year in addition to his $375,000 salary to make up for his not being able to collect a Maryland pension while chancellor, according to documents released yesterday.

Kirwan, 64, collects a sizable state pension from his 34 years of employment at the University of Maryland, including 10 years as the university's president. Under Maryland law, he cannot collect a state pension and state salary at the same time.

To make up for that, Kirwan's contract, released yesterday after a Freedom of Information request by The Sun and other news organizations, calls for him to receive "special compensation" of $100,000 a year while chancellor. The money will be paid into a non-taxable, deferred compensation program.

University system spokesman Francis Canavan said Kirwan's pension pays him slightly more than $100,000 per year.

"This is wholly to compensate him for his pension. There's no additional compensation for him in this. They just chose $100,000 because it's a nice round number," Canavan said.

Kirwan's contract with the system's Board of Regents, which will run for five years after his arrival Aug. 1, also gives him the use of the chancellor's residence, the Hidden Waters mansion in Baltimore County, and use of an official car and driver.

Kirwan, the president of Ohio State University, was hired in March after a lengthy search to replace Donald N. Langenberg, who retired last month.

The search drew extensive attention after Gov. Parris N. Glendening expressed interest in the job. He withdrew after coming under criticism for seeking a position selected by regents whom he appointed.

Kirwan earned a base salary of $275,000 at Ohio State, but Ohio officials said he was paid "substantially" more through private foundation sources, as is common at public universities.

Higher education sources in Maryland say regents discussed the possibility of supplementing Kirwan's chancellor salary with private funds, but Canavan said that will not happen.

He said Kirwan plans to serve on the boards of several Maryland-based corporations, seats that typically pay stipends of up to $10,000. The regents have no rules against a chancellor's serving on corporate boards, which Langenberg chose not to do.

"It's expected [Kirwan] will do that. The Board of Regents wants him to do that," Canavan said.

Under state law, the salary earned by Kirwan as chancellor will not be factored into the pension he will resume collecting when he retires from the chancellorship, Canavan said.

As head of the 13-member University System of Maryland, the chancellor lobbies for funding in Annapolis, assists in the selection of campus presidents, helps allocate state funds to the campuses and organizes system-wide initiatives.

Under a 1998 law meant to decentralize the system, though, much of the authority over the campuses now resides with the various presidents.

Despite the chancellorship's reduced power, it is one of the highest-paid positions on the state payroll.

"I have great respect for Dr. Kirwan, and if there's anyone who can make sense of the system, it's him," said James L. Fisher, a former president of Towson University and longtime advocate for dismantling the university system. "But that's a heck of a lot of money."

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