Aug 232011
Authors: Matt Miller and Allison Sylte

During a closed performance review at the Aug. 9 CSU Board of Governors meeting, board members decided CSU President Tony Frank and System Chancellor Joe Blake deserved their annual incentive-based bonuses.  These were later approved in public session.

Frank will be awarded $20,000 and Blake, who resigned in July, will receive $35,000 for work done last fiscal year.

“The term ‘bonus’ can be misleading,” said CSU Spokesman Brad Bohlander in an email to the Collegian. “This incentive-based compensation is part of the salary plan for the president and chancellor, and is paid out of the general fund as with the majority of staff salaries.”

While these bonuses were part of Frank and Blake’s 2009 contracts, non-voting BOG member and ASCSU President Eric Berlinberg disagreed with the procedure by which these bonuses were introduced and agreed upon.

“There was no time for discussion, no time for questions,” Berlinberg said. “There was no time for student or faculty representation in the decision making.”

According to Berlinberg, the issue was first addressed during a closed executive session, where Frank and Blake were given their yearly performance reviews.

Berlinberg, as a non-voting board member, was not privy to these closed-door meetings, given that state law mandates that matters involving an employee’s performance are kept private.

After the bonuses were agreed upon during this meeting, the issue was approved during a public session on Aug. 10, without sufficient time given to student and faculty representatives to receive more information, Berlinberg said.

However, BOG Chairman Joe Zimlich said discussions on the bonuses were done during open session, and occurred over the course of the Aug. 9 through 10 board meetings.

CSU-Pueblo student government leader Isaiah McGregory said he wasn’t present during the vote, and couldn’t confirm whether or not sufficient question and answer time was given to student and faculty representatives.

Berlinberg, who was present at all of the proceedings except for the executive sessions, said he only saw the bonuses discussed briefly prior to the board’s approval.

The bonuses were based on an incentive plan created by the BOG to give Frank and Blake specific goals to meet in order to receive their full salary.

“The goals are set high, and they are not something that is meant to be reached every year,” Bohlander said.

Since Frank and Blake’s contracts took effect in 2009, they have received some form of incentive-based compensation for the following two fiscal years. While Bohlander and Zimlich didn’t know the exact amount, Zimlich said last year’s bonuses were probably comparable to this year’s.

Frank was evaluated on how well he raised alumni participation, increased research funding, philanthropy/private giving, university engagement and enrollment.

Blake was tasked with implementing a system-wide strategic plan, increasing fundraising, lobbying for higher education funding, obtaining board approvals for the CSU-Global Campus and work to enhance STEM education in Colorado.

Both Bohlander and Zimlich emphasized that these payments were not bonuses in a traditional sense, but rather a system of “incentive-based compensation” meant to motivate administrators to meet goals beneficial for the CSU system.

“In a corporate world, bonuses are not tied to individual performance. Incentive-based compensation is tied to specific achievements,” Zimlich said.

However, Berlinberg said the term “bonus” was used during what he saw of the proceedings.
“It’s grossly inappropriate to use the term bonus during four years of pay and hiring freezes,” Berlinberg said.

Only Frank, Blake, the President of CSU-Pueblo, the President of CSU-Global campus, the Director of Athletics and the Head football, basketball and volleyball coaches are employed under contracts that allow them to qualify for incentive-based bonuses, Bohlander said.

“This is a common practice among institutions of higher education in line with competitive employment practices,” Bohlander said.

These bonuses come from the University General Fund, which is the university’s biggest pool of money used for a broad spectrum of university expenses, from salaries to departmental expenses, according to Bohlander.  

Berlinberg said he thinks general fund money can be used for more beneficial things to the campus than bonuses.

“We all know that extra general fund money backfills other funds,” Berlinberg said. “That money is something that really could benefit TAs and staff.”

He added that should the state further reduce higher education funding, the general fund money could be used as compensation for those lost funds.

After taxes are taken away from Frank’s bonus, he will pocket $13,000.

Bohlander said late Tuesday afternoon that Frank will donate $10,000 of his bonus to the Larimer County Food Bank, and the remainder to a spring concert.

Neither Frank nor Blake were available for comment.

While Berlinberg admired this act, he still voiced concerns regarding the message the bonus process sends to students and faculty.

“In my mind I love that Frank is philanthropic, but why was a check issued in the first place?” Berlinberg said.

According to Zimlich, the bonuses were entirely the board’s decision, and he wasn’t quite sure if the administrators who would receive the bonuses necessarily approved of the action.
“I know they did not ask for it,” Zimlich said.  

Berlinberg said his concern was not with the bonuses themselves, but rather with the process involved. In previous cases, he said the board has always been considerate of his and the faculty representative’s input.

“It’s tough for me to think about being in their shoes and accepting the bonuses,” Berlinberg said.

News Editor Matt Miller and Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte can be reached at

Criteria met to receive money

Frank will receive $20,000 for:

  • Improving in alumni participation
  • Improving in research funding
  • Improving philanthropy and private giving
  • Improving engagement and enrollment

Blake will receive $35,000 for:

  • Implementing a system-wide strategic plan
  • Increasing fundraising
  • Lobbying for higher education funding
  • Obtaining board approvals for the CSU-Global Campus
  • Enhance STEM education in Colorado
 Posted by at 5:47 pm

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