Koffler's salary discussed

By Sarah Mayhew

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Ever since former UA President Henry Koffler stepped down from the presidency in summer 1991, faculty has wondered what Koffler is doing to earn his roughly $100,000 salary, an administrative assistant and a large office in the Alumni Foundation Building.

And ever since Koffler entered post-presidential salary negotiations that year, faculty has protested the salary he collects as a tenured professor.

¨ Koffler's salary

Koffler's salary was set by former University of Arizona Provost Jack Cole and approved by the Arizona Board of Regents before he left the presidency. This year, he will earn $102,670. The university leases his office space and pays about $50,000 for Koffler's administrative assistant, Merrylees Mayer, who was also his assistant while he was president.

J.D. Garcia, Faculty Senate chairman, said one of the complaints faculty make about Koffler's salary and budget is that many professors earn the same or less than his assistant and Koffler is technically only a tenured professor.

He is listed as a tenured professor of microbiology, molecular and cellular biology and microbiology and immunology in the 1994-95 UA budget.

The money for Koffler and Mayer's salaries comes from indirect funding cost revenues, which are revenues taken from grants to the university.

When a grant is written, the applicant outlines all of the direct costs the grant will cover. A grant does not cover costs the university incurs in the research project not included in the grant proposal.

For this reason, the university takes a percentage of the money from each grant to pay for those indirect costs.

That money is pooled and then


distributed to areas throughout the university that acquire costs associated with but not directly paid for by grants.

It is unclear why Koffler and his assistant's salary comes from indirect funding revenues.

This year the UA appropriated about $39 million of grant money to pay for indirect funding costs.

During his last year as president, Koffler earned $132,258. This year, UA President Manuel T. Pacheco will earn $156,563.

Faculty has voiced complaints about Koffler's salary and benefits because of the size of his workload.

"He ought to fulfill the responsibilities of a professor," Garcia said.

¨ Koffler's workload

Koffler said his days begin at 8 a.m. He usually goes home for dinner, but goes back to his office in the university Alumni Foundation Building until 9:30 p.m. most nights. He also said he works Saturdays, but only in the mornings when there is a home football game.

This semester, he teaches six one-hour freshman seminars each week and is developing a retirement community for retiring university faculty members from schools around the country.

The "Arizona Senior Academy," as the brochure calls it, would provide condominiums for about 500 retirees and their spouses, a community center, a health center and an academic and professional facility. The facility could cost an estimated $60 million, but it will be paid for completely by its residents, Koffler said.

The retirees will be able to use the academic and professional building to do research, use academic computer databases and a library at the facility. The building also will have classroom space so that the retired university faculty can give lectures or hold UA classes there, Koffler said.

Some of the faculty may be hired part time by university departments and others will act as consultants to the UA, Koffler said.

Provost Paul Sypherd, who oversees Koffler's projects, said he likes the idea.

"Probably much of that intellectual horsepower will not cost us anything," Sypherd said.

Koffler's other project, the Freshman Colloquium Series, began in fall 1992.

Koffler stepped down from directing the freshman seminar series this year, leaving English Professor J. Douglas Canfield in charge. Canfield has been teaching colloquiums since the program began.

"I didn't want to continue," Koffler said. He said he stopped running the program because to build up the series properly he would need to get involved in the university administration again, something he said he does not want to do.

This semester there are 37 seminar classes taught by university professors. Topics range from agriculture and economics to Aztecs, biotechnology and sociology.

The series are one-unit courses open to freshmen and meet for one hour a week. The professors volunteer to teach the classes beyond their regular work loads.

"He's one of the busiest guys around," said Sypherd, who oversees Koffler's projects.

Koffler said he also occasionally lectures for other professors' classes.

Now that Canfield is running the seminar series, Koffler said he is devoting much of his time to developing the private faculty retirement community.

¨ Faculty criticism and support

Sypherd said he thinks much of the criticism surrounding Koffler comes from a misunderstanding of what he does.

"It's true that he's not doing traditional research," he said.

Now, with the administration threatening to cut four academic programs, the complaints that Koffler should not be paid an administrative-level salary are mounting.

"People don't express themselves on issues that are not central," Garcia said. "These (comments) have been more than occasional."

Out of 10 faculty members surveyed randomly by the Arizona Daily Wildcat, three would comment and only two were sure what Koffler does.

Phillip Chapman, a political science associate professor, declined to comment, saying, "You can guess my opinion."

And Thomas Christiano, an associate philosophy professor, said, "I don't really know what he does."

Students also are unsure what Koffler does.

T.J. Trujillo, president of the Associated Students of the UA and a senior, said he remembered Koffler as president, but was unsure how Koffler spends his time.

"I've heard rumors," Trujillo said. "I asked one time and it sounded legitimate."

But those who work with Koffler said his work with undergraduate education is worth the price.

Part of the proposed changes to undergraduate education are being modeled around Koffler's freshman colloquium series, said UA President Manuel T. Pacheco.

In August, Sypherd unveiled a new plan to establish core undergraduate classes to replace general education requirements. Under the plan, undergraduates would also be advised by high-ranking faculty.

One of the benefits of the freshman seminars is that freshmen get to know tenured faculty on a personal basis and continue to speak with them as mentors and advisers, Koffler said.

"I'm a little bit irritated that somebody is trying to dig up some negative comments about him," Pacheco said.

And Canfield said he agreed to teach a freshman seminar in 1992 when Koffler first approached him because he liked the idea.

"I just intuitively believe that it's a good thing for students to have an experience with a professor as a freshman," he said.

Canfield and communications professor Michael Burgoon both said that Koffler's presidency was important enough to the university to justify Koffler's present position on campus.

"Koffler is more than just a tenured professor," Canfield said. "He is the president emeritus and he ought to have a salary that is commensurate with that position."

And Burgoon said, "I think he served the university well. He was hired as a tenured professor in good standing."

¨ Origins of complaints

The complaints about the size of Koffler's budget began while Koffler was negotiating his post-presidential position and salary in 1991.

An unsigned staff editorial that ran in the Arizona Daily Wildcat in spring of 1991 states, "Amid horrendous budget cuts that are eliminating student services, hurting instruction and forcing layoffs, the Arizona Board of Regents plans to set Koffler's salary for his development and fund-raising work next year . It is Koffler's ultimate slap in the face to all those who have worked during the last eight years to counteract the cuts and poor priorities that adversely have affected students and faculty."

As president-elect, Manuel T. Pacheco was quoted in the Wildcat as saying he was "aware of Koffler's intentions (of) starting July 1 and has some objections."

In an interview Wednesday, Pacheco denied the comment and said he supported Koffler's efforts of the last three years.

"That was misreported," he said. "I never would have said that. I think he's done an excellent job in what he was asked to do."

¨Retiring presidents often stay

It is common for university presidents to continue to work for and be paid by the same institution they once ran.

Suellen Crano, a coordinator in the office of the vice provost for academic planning, said she conducted a survey of universities on behalf of the National Research Council to look into the issue of the elimination of mandatory retirement at universities. The survey was mandated by Congress.

She said she found former presidents and chancellors working at their institutions, often doing research on grants or running research centers. As tenured faculty, many also taught freshman seminars and honors colloquia.

"You do find it all over the place," Crano said. "It's not unusual."

Former University of Virginia President Robert O'Neill heads the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. And two or three former presidents still work for Howard University, she said.

"It's not that they're given staffs frivolously," Crano said. "Basically, the presidents got their same salaries, which are big salaries," she said. Presidents that stayed on at the 17 institutions Crano surveyed also got budgets commensurate to their post-presidential activities, she said.

Neither of the UA's past two presidents were given paid positions at the university after their presidency. John Schaefer, who left in 1982, heads Research Corp. in New York. He is listed in this year's budget as president emeritus, but draws no salary. Richard Harvill, who left the university in 1971, also was named president emeritus of the university.

Arizona State University's last president, J. Russell Nelson, who left in 1989, went to the University of Colorado to work as a dean after his presidency. And Northern Arizona University's former president, Eugene Hughes, resigned to become president of Wichita State University in Kansas.

Koffler said he stayed on at the UA because he is older but not ready to retire.

"If they're (resigning university presidents) younger, they'll go on to another university or somewhere else," he said.

But Koffler, who is in his 70s, said he is not ready to retire.

"I have a contribution," he said.

Read Next Article