Illinois just capped how much community college presidents can get paid in severance

Expert says it may hurt recruitment, retention of top talent

Illinois community colleges face new restrictions in recruiting presidents now that Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed into law two bills that limit severance packages.

The move comes on the heels of a statewide budget crisis—public colleges and universities have not seen public funding in more than 100 days.

The first law requires severance deals be transparent because they are partially funded by the public. The second law:

  • Limits buyouts to a year's salary and benefits;
  • Limits nonunion contracts to no more than three years;
  • Prohibits automatic renewal for presidents; and
  • Requires disclosure of contracts before approval.

The laws come after a lengthy dispute over the former College of DuPage president's severance package. Originally, it was $763,000, but the board eventually reduced it at $495,000.

Critics blast college administrators for 'lavish' benefits

But these changes may hurt the recruitment and retention, says Raymond Cotton, an attorney specializing in presidential contract negotiations.

Most schools offer five-year contracts, he says.

The laws cut back on trustees' decision-making power, but Cotton argues if those advisors cannot be trusted, they should just be replaced.

"Legislation imposes a one-size-fits-all solution for every community college," he told University Business. "For some, it might not be a burden, and for others it will be" (Botelho, University Business, accessed 10/22).

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