During the closed session of the Board of Visitors meeting June 3, University President Jim Ryan was awarded a $200,000 bonus for unspecified reasons, according to the board’s public minutes.
During the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, the University announced a salary freeze for all its employees through the 2021 fiscal year, meaning there were no merit increases for employees through June 30, 2021. Additionally, Ryan — along with other University senior leaders — took a 10 percent pay cut to alleviate financial losses stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2021 fiscal year. Senior leadership has since had their salaries fully restored.
“When the situation this year became clearer and we had the results of a highly successful handling of COVID-19, we think the University did as well as, if not better, than any institution of higher learning in making the adjustments necessary due to COVID-19, we thought that it was appropriate to give him the bonus,” said Board Rector Whittington Clement in an interview with The Cavalier Daily.
Ryan is the highest-earning employee at the University, and for the two-year period covering 2020 and 2021, the average base salary for University president was $750,000. After the 10 percent pay cut, Ryan’s salary was $695,250, according to documents obtained by The Cavalier Daily in a Freedom of Information Act request. A second FOIA request in summer 2021 revealed that Ryan’s salary returned to $772,500 the next year. A 10 percent pay cut from Ryan’s average base salary would be approximately $75,000, meaning that the $200,000 bonus awarded to Ryan more than made up for any decrease in income he experienced during the previous fiscal year.
“As President Ryan’s contract lays out, he is eligible for an annual bonus as part of his performance review,” University spokesperson Wes Hester said. “Last year, as part of the University’s broader efforts to mitigate the financial impact of the pandemic, President Ryan took a salary reduction and declined an annual bonus. In July, the Board of Visitors voted to provide a one-time bonus of $200,000.”
Ryan’s contract, signed in September 2017, says the Board may award a maximum bonus of $100,000 per year. According to Clement, the Board of Visitors believed that Ryan, who deferred discussions of a bonus last year, deserved the $100,000 he could have been awarded in 2020 for his strong leadership during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ryan’s contract also includes a $20,000 annual car allowance, covers annual dues and memberships for professional societies Ryan is a member of and offers to pay the initiation fees and annual membership dues for two clubs of Ryan’s choice.
In addition to living at Carr’s Hill, a 13,700 square foot house provided by the University with seven bedrooms and eight bathrooms, Ryan is also awarded 22 days of paid vacation each year and earns two months of sabbatical leave for every twelve months of service.