Bon voyage bonanzas: The golden parachutes of NJ public college presidents cost millions

For departing New Jersey public college presidents, their farewell payments, perks and positions can resemble lottery jackpots. Not left to chance, these windfalls are carefully crafted into their employment contracts.

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Dr. George Pruitt of Thomas Edison State University

George Pruitt of Thomas Edison State University in Trenton is slated to receive $1.7 million in payouts after his presidency ends.  A university without a traditional faculty, TESU offers graduate and undergraduate degrees through online studies.

It begins with a one-year paid sabbatical leave at his presidential salary, currently $337,000 – and a new title, president emeritus.

When he returns from sabbatical, Pruitt will begin a five-year fellowship to conduct research at TESU’s John S. Watson School of Public Service, where he will get 80 percent of his former salary – another $1.348 million or more.

To top it off, the university will pay a $10,000 lump sum to cover Pruitt’s relocation expenses.

“Why would a president who runs an institution that’s totally online get this kind of compensation?” asked Susanna Tardi, vice president for higher education at the New Jersey chapter of the American Federation of Teachers.

“There’s a lot of money that is wasted in higher education because of the lack of top-down accountability,” added Tardi.

At least 13 current presidents have an express option to work in other six-figure positions at their institutions when they step down.

Nine of those chief executives can begin their post-presidential careers with generous paid sabbaticals, according to a NJ Spotlight analysis of employment contracts obtained under the Open Public Records Act.

Read the full story by investigative reporter Mark Lagerkvist at NJ Spotlight

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Mark Lagerkvist is a veteran investigative reporter who has worked for CNBC, News 12, Asbury Park Press, New Jersey Watchdog and other newspaper, television and online news outlets. His work has won more than 60 journalism awards, including honors from National Press Club, Scripps Howard Foundation, and Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE). He can be reached at Mark@Lagerkvist.net.

 


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