Thursday, July 30, 2015

Board of Regents Appoint Jim Johnsen To Be President Of The University Of Alaska

From the University press office:
"With a unanimous vote of all regents participating, the University of Alaska (UA) Board of Regents appointed Dr. James R. Johnsen as the 14th president of the UA system. The vote took place during a special meeting of the board on July 28."  [Note:  the link seems to go to the press releases in general.  I couldn't find a way to link to this specific one.  It's July 28, 2015 if you try to find it later.]

Here is most of the position description the Board put out for this job.  I've bolded those parts that speak to what the president must be or do:

 The board seeks an accomplished, astute and effective leader who can provide strategic, innovative and collaborative leadership for the university.

The Presidency of the University of Alaska is an outstanding opportunity for a leader who enjoys the challenge of moving a  complex  academic  organization  to  greater  levels  of  achievement.
The  board  seeks  a  highly  experienced,  politically savvy leader  who  understands  how  to  advance  agendas  in  higher education  and  to  manage  a  multifaceted  university system.
As  one  of  the  most  influential  and  visible  leaders  in  Alaska,  the  President  of  the  University  of  Alaska  must constantly draw the connections between higher education and the state’s economic viability.  He or she must be a tireless, persuasive advocate willing to travel widely within Alaska to encourage support for education and training beyond high school. The  president  should  be  a  visible  participant  in  national  higher  education  issues  and persuasive  with  federal agencies.
He  or  she  must  be  a  coach  for  chancellors,  a  wise  counselor  for  the  board  and a  trustworthy  resource  for  the legislature. He or she should work effectively with University of Alaska Foundation leaders.
The next President should think  creatively,  develop  collaborative  and  innovative solutions  to  challenging  issues and  be  technologically  informed.  With an approachable style and a genuine respect for others, the next President should be dedicated to earning public and private support for the University of Alaska.
A lot of bureaucratic jargon, not much that's specific.  I mention this because the press release also says:
"The new president’s contract is for five years and provides for an annual salary of $325,000 for the duration of the contract.  An annual performance bonus of up to $75,000 will be tied to mutually-agreed upon metrics which are to be determined by September 30."
Exactly how are they going to get from that job description 'mutually-agreed upon metrics'? 

This sounds like an agreement that says, "If you do these things, you'll get a bonus."  And it can be up to 23% of your base pay.

Let's compare that to what faculty get (as outlined in the United Academics contract):

15.5 Merit Bonuses
In addition to the base salary adjustments provided in this Article, the University may, in its sole discretion, award nonrecurring bonus payments to unit members for extraordinary performance far beyond expectations. If the University determines that merit bonuses will be awarded, the dean/director shall recommend to the provost those unit members whose exemplary performance may warrant a bonus. The provost shall then determine the recipients and amounts of merit bonuses.
The University may provide up to one percent (1%) of the total base payroll for merit bonuses each fiscal year. The one percent (1%) of the total base payroll will be calculated as of July 1 of each fiscal year.
There shall be no merit bonuses during the term of this agreement after December 31, 2016.

Faculty bonuses are not based on mutually agreed on metrics, but at the sole discretion of the university, and they have to be 'extraordinary performance far beyond expectations.' 

It will be interesting to see the process for coming up with the metrics and to see whether they too reflect 'extraordinary performance far beyond expectations.'  Maybe like increase the university revenues by 30% per year.  But fund raising isn't even specifically mentioned in the job description.  It's only hinted at - good relations with the UA Foundation and the legislature.

In any case, we have a new president.  I offer my congratulations to Dr. Johnsen and wish him and the university community all the best.   I'm reasonably convinced he wants to do an outstanding job.  My hope is that a) he is able to do that and b) his definition of an outstanding job overlaps closely with that of faculty, staff, and students.  I wish Dr. Johnsen and the university well. The future of Alaska in many ways depends on how well the university performs.  I will do what I can to assist, including reporting on what I think needs attention.  

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