TALLAHASSEE — Florida State University's new president will have a larger salary than his predecessor, T.K. Wetherell, and stands to make even more in bonuses as a reward for big-time fundraising.
FSU trustees chairman Jim Smith confirmed Monday that Eric Barron has signed a contract that includes a base salary of $395,000 a year in state and private dollars — plus the chance to earn annual bonuses of $100,000 for every $100 million in private donations raised. He'll also get free housing and a car, Smith said, as well as a retention bonus of $200,000 after a few years.
Housing and car allowances have become standard fare for university president contracts, and in recent years Florida's university presidents have ranked near the top in the country for salary and compensation packages. But the bonus provision in Barron's five-year contract is a signal that the trustees want to see FSU's $447 million endowment grow by $1 billion over the next five years.
"We said $1 billion in five years, and we're serious about that," Smith said Monday. FSU's trustees gave him the authority to negotiate with Barron, 58, and sign a contract.
Barron, who most recently was director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, could not be reached for comment Monday. But he already has started living in the president's house. A 1973 FSU graduate, Barron becomes "president-designate" Friday and officially takes the reins from Wetherell in the next few weeks.
Smith said the potential for big bonuses should inspire Barron, but raising $100 million in a year is daunting even for the savviest of university fundraisers.
"I don't know that we've ever raised $100 million in a year here at FSU," Smith said. "So it's not easy. It's not guaranteed."
He and other search committee members selected Barron from among three finalists, in part, because of his success courting alumni and other donors during his years as a dean at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Texas in Austin.
"Raising money from individuals is not putting your hands in someone's pockets," Barron said last month during interviews on campus. "It is creating a relationship with someone and helping them create a relationship with this university."
Wetherell, president since 2003, had a base salary of $315,545. His contract included benefits such as club memberships, a car, an annual performance bonus of up to $75,000, and an additional $210,000 annual bonus for meeting three-year goals.
The highest-paid president among the state's 11 universities is Florida's Bernie Machen, whose contract gives him a base salary of more than $411,000 and total pay and benefits of about $730,000.
Shannon Colavecchio can be reached at email@example.com or (850) 224-7263.