QUESTION: A reader who follows Arkansas State University asked a question following the selection of a new chancellor at the Jonesboro campus.

Under his contract, the former chancellor Kelly Damphousse, was owed a longevity bonus of $100,000 if employed by Arkansas State University July 1.

 

Damphousse, who went to work at ASU July 1, 2017, had a contract that extended through June 30, 2024. He resigned March 31, effective June 30, to take the job as president of Texas State University. Did he still receive a bonus? The contract indicates he should not. The spirit of the contract seemed to expect him to continue to work for a sixth year.

ANSWER:

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Here’s the contract clause in question.

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I was initially informed that Damphousse was paid $80,000 in private funds. I asked a couple of follow-up questions — how the payment squared with the contract terms and the source of the private funds.
I got this response from Jeff Hankins, ASU’s vice president for strategic communications:

Dr. Damphousse had the option of resigning July 1 and receiving the full $100,000 retention bonus. Instead, private funds from the ASU System Foundation were used to pay $80,000 in exchange for the mid-June resignation timing in recognition of his service of nearly 5 years. The negotiated agreement actually saved the foundation and university $20,000.

Todd Shields, a UA dean, was hired to succeed Damphousse at $450,000 a year. Damphousse started at $360,000 in 2017. Both contracts included other perks, including deferred compensation. Last year, that deferred compensation package was increased for Damphoussee from $40,000 to more than $48,000 annually conditioned on satisfactory job performance for the year, extending through June 30, 2024. A deferred payment was due on July 1 of this year. (Correction: a contract amendment made that amount payable June 30.) I’ve asked if Damphousse received this year’s payment and also if he claimed pay for accumulated leave time. He was entitled to 22.5 days of leave a year. Leave time could be accumulated and carried forward and paid on departure.

UPDATE AND CORRECTION:

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  1. He received $34,873 for accumulated leave time. It was not the deferred compensation payment as I originally wrote.
  2. He was paid $42,060 in deferred compensation on June 30, in addition to three quarterly payments of $2,060 made earlier in the year. The contract was amended to add a pay raise to his deferred compensation.

In sum, he stacked up checks from ASU for more than $156,000 on departure for Texas.