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Trustees Award $46,000 Bonus to Outgoing ISU President

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The Illinois State University Board of Trustees met virtually on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021.

The Illinois State University Board of Trustees voted Saturday to approve a $46,000 bonus for outgoing university president Larry Dietz, who announced in November that he will retire June 30.

According to his contract, which was extended in December, Dietz is eligible for an annual performance bonus up to $50,000--on top of his $375,000 base salary. A copy of his performance review, included in the public meeting materials, indicated that Dietz met or exceeded most of his goals for the 2020 fiscal year.

The trustees noted that while Dietz had exceeded goals like the Redbirds Rising capital campaign, “improvement was needed” in fostering inclusivity on campus, and developing and implementing a legislative advocacy plan. 

Prior to the vote that was discussed in executive session, the board heard from three ISU graduate students, who said the university isn’t doing enough to provide financial security for its postgraduate population. 

Ashley Parra, an MFA theater student, described the “misery of a stipend” that left her without adequate money for food and housing. She told the board she was forced to take on a male stranger as a roommate, who, Parra said, assaulted her, making her afraid in her own home. She also went for months eating only one meal a day. Parra said that as a graduate student, her focus should be on her studies, not survival. 

The board also heard from two members of the ISU Graduate Workers Union that has formally requested mediation in its negotiations with the university. The union was formed in 2018 and didn’t have its first bargaining session with the university until October 2019. Trevor Rickerd, a doctoral candidate in biology, said if ISU can find “$150,000” to give the basketball coach a raise, surely it should be able to pay graduate students enough to “pay rent and buy food comfortably.” 

Search for next president

The board also heard a presentation from WittKieffer, the executive search agency tasked with finding the next university president to replace Dietz.

Managing partner Zach Smith outlined the agency’s search process that will begin with a series of listening sessions held with various university constituencies. Smith said the first round of potential candidates will be presented to the search committee by early April and narrowed down to finalists by the end of that month.

The new president has an anticipated start date of around July 1, though Dietz has signaled his willingness to stay on beyond his announced retirement date of June 30, if needed.

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