The board that oversees the University of Arizona has approved “transition terms” for President Ann Weaver Hart that will force taxpayers to cover two presidential salaries next school year.
Hart’s deal with the Arizona Board of Regents also grants her an immediate year-long sabbatical when she steps down as president and becomes a professor — even though Hart doesn’t qualify for a sabbatical under UA policy.
Hart will continue to receive $475,000 a year in presidential base pay until June 2018, but will surrender the presidency in 2017 under what a regents official described in a Thursday email to the Arizona Daily Star as a “Termination by Board without Cause.”
Regents general counsel Nancy Tribbensee told the board that Hart “has agreed to terminate (her) contract” to allow her successor to start work in 2017.
Hart’s June announcement that she planned to step down as president when her contract ends followed months of controversy and mounting donor outrage over her decision to join the board that oversees DeVry University.
The for-profit college, which pays Hart $170,000 a year in salary and stock to serve on its board, is facing a federal government lawsuit for allegedly deceiving students, claims the company denies.
The Regents have launched a search for a new UA president and hope to have one in place by mid-2017.
Hart will face a big drop in income when her presidential paychecks stop.
Her transition deal calls for her to receive a salary thereafter equivalent to the highest salary paid to any faculty member in the College of Education, where she’ll work as a professor. The Regents agreed to the professorship when they hired Hart in 2012.
The Star asked UA officials Wednesday to provide Hart’s new salary figures by Thursday, but they didn’t provide them.
The UA’s 2015 salary database suggests the figure is in the neighborhood of $120,000 to $130,000 a year — less than one-third of Hart’s current base pay.
The transition term that grants Hart an automatic sabbatical when she steps down as president varies from UA rules governing such leaves.
Employees must have at least six years on the job to qualify for a sabbatical, but Hart will only have five when the deal kicks in next school year.
UA policy also requires sabbatical hopefuls to submit written plans for how they’ll spend their time off, which then must be reviewed by an internal committee to see if they benefit the university.
Hart avoided those requirements by receiving the Regents’ guarantee of time off.
The Star asked Regents by email how they could approve a sabbatical for Hart when they don’t have any sabbatical-granting power under UA policy.
“The board is not limited by the university sabbatical leave policy in negotiating individual contract terms for the presidents,” Regents spokeswoman Sarah Harper responded.
“The board is the governing body for the universities and as such it retains the authority over employment related decisions,” she said.
Hart helped develop her transition terms in consultation with former regents chair Jay Heiler of Paradise Valley and current chair Greg Patterson of Scottsdale.
The board approved the deal unanimously at its meeting in Flagstaff on Thursday.