When Howard University President Sidney A. Ribeau announced a series of budget cuts last month, the faculty senate fired back with a three-page letter that questioned the “outrageous bonuses” that a few administrators received in 2010 that totaled more than $1 million.
Faculty representatives wrote in a letter dated Feb. 16 to Ribeau and the board of trustees that the bonuses demonstrate “blatant disregard for the University when our students and their families are struggling to pay tuition increases.”
The one-time payments were made to three top administrators who agreed to stay at the historically black university for three years during a change of presidents, according to a statement from Howard. The retention agreements were signed in 2007 and matured on June 30, 2010. The financial incentives were needed “to ensure the continuity of senior leadership in critical areas and mitigate any potential risks for the University,” according to the statement.
The amount of the payments was reported in Howard’s 2010 tax filing, which is a public record: Senior vice president Artis G. Hampshire-Cowan, who was the interim president, received $302,820 on top of her salary of $213,552. Senior vice president for strategy and government affairs Hassan Minor received $522,184 on top of his salary of $264,255. Chief legal officer Norma Leftwich received $224,050 on top of her salary of $252,930.
Howard is a private university located in the District that has more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It is one of the most well-known historically black universities.
In recent years, Howard has scaled back or cut a number of academic programs that were graduating too few students, duplicated the offerings of other departments or did not fit the university’s mission.
Earlier this year, university officials announced that undergraduate tuition would increase by 12 percent or $2,300 for the 2012-12 academic year, bringing the total price to $21,450. Graduate tuition increased by 15 percent to a total of $29,090.
In mid-February, Ribeau announced that the university overspent during the first half of the fiscal year and needed to tighten its budget for the rest of the year by deferring some campus facilities projects, reviewing its business contracts and closing campus during spring break this week, among other things. Ribeau also warned faculty and staff that they might be furloughed.
“While these actions are necessary, I am aware that they will not be easy,” Ribeau wrote in a letter to the campus on Feb. 13. “The sacrifices that we are making are essential to our institutional renewal and continued success.