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ISU Board Of Trustees Approves $40,000 Bonus For Retiring President Dietz

Larry Dietz at news conference
Illinois State University
Retiring Illinois State University President Larry Dietz was awarded a $40,000 bonus by the ISU board of trustees at a special meeting Saturday morning. Dietz's base salary is $375,000.

The Illinois State University Board of Trustees, meeting in a special session Saturday morning, approved a bonus for retiring President Larry Dietz and a resolution to officially hire Terri Goss Kinzy as the university’s 20th president.

The meeting was held on Juneteenth that was declared an official state holiday by Gov. JB Pritzker last week and a federal holiday this week by President Joe Biden. Board chair Julie Annette Jones opened the meeting by wishing everyone a happy Juneteenth and reading a brief explanation of the reason for the holiday.

“I couldn't agree more about the establishment of the new holiday. I hope it will be a symbol of how far we have come as a nation since 1865, but also of how far we need to go to create equity in this country,” said Dietz.

The board then went into executive session to discuss resolution that allows trustees to consider whether to award the president a bonus, and the amount, based on his performance review and Academic Senate survey results. The discussion lasted about 30 before the board returned to public session.

Ultimately, the board approved a motion, on a 4-2 vote, to give a $40,000 bonus to Dietz with student trustee Jada Turner and trustee Robert Dobski voting "no."

“With the pandemic and everything going on, I do not think it is the right time for a bonus,” Turner said.

Dobski, on the other hand, said his vote was due to the amount being too low. In 2020, the board gave Dietz a bonus of $48,000, just $2,000 short of the maximum allowed in his contract.

Dietz’s baseline salary is $375,000 annually.

"Honestly, I'm appreciative of the bonus and whatever that is, part of the contract," Dietz said. "In previous years the amount has been greater than that. And as I read the evaluation, the same considerations have come up before. And so I'm frankly a little surprised at the dollar amount given previous years of consideration around the same issues.

"I think the whole team worked very, very hard this last year. It was a really tough year, with the pandemic layering over everything. But I appreciate the consideration. I'm disappointed in the amount, but I respect trustee Turner's comments. But know that it's also — you gave it consideration. It's your decision, not mine, so I appreciate what you've done on this."

Dietz later offered further comments on the bonus: "I don't want to appear ungrateful for the board's consideration. I appreciate it very much. To me, any consideration about this — all of our efforts are a team effort here. I just want to thank the leadership team for their good work over this past year. It's been the toughest year of my entire career in this business, and I think most of my colleagues would say the same."

Jones said the board is very supportive of Dietz and all that he has done for the university, but had to take into account all that has happened at the university over the past year. She said that comments in the Academic Senate related to several issues, including graduate student union negotiations, ISU's relationship with Latinx and African American students and the university’s COVID-19 response, were taken into consideration during the board’s discussion.

The board also unanimously approved a resolution that officially hires Kinzy as the university’s president effective July 1, the effective date of Dietz's retirement. Like Dietz, her base salary is $375,000.

Kinzy was named in May to succeed Dietz. She previously was vice president for research and innovation at Western Michigan University. Kinzy will become ISU's first female president, emerging from a field of more than 50 candidates for the job, university officials said at the time of her selection.

Dietz is retiring June 30 after seven years as ISU president. He was appointed president in 2014, and is the longest serving of all current Illinois public university presidents.

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