WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue trustees had nothing but praise for president Mitch Daniels, rating his performance as even better than they expected and giving him his biggest salary in his seven years on the West Lafayette campus.
For 2019, Daniels made $902,207, including base pay, an at-risk portion of his salary and a $250,000 retention bonus that was part of a five-year contract extension that runs through 2020, based on numbers approved Friday morning by Purdue’s trustees.
That was an 8.6 percent increase, once an escalating retention bonus is factored in, from the $830,000 the trustees gave Daniels in the previous year. With retention bonuses taken out, Daniels’ salary was up 3.5 percent, or $22,208.
Daniels’ contract, since he arrived at Purdue, has included a portion of his salary tied to specific metrics in four broad categories: student affordability; student success, including graduation and retention rates; fundraising; and research productivity and reputation.
On top of a $430,500 base salary, Daniels’ contract puts another $215,250 – or half his base pay – on the line, based on his performance.
In 2018, trustees said Daniels hit 100 percent of his at-risk pay goals. In 2019, that went to 103 percent, for a total of $221,707 in the at-risk portion of his pay.
According to his contract, trustees may give Daniels more than 100 percent of the at-risk pay – up to 130 percent – for out-performing goals. He also could get none of the at-risk pay and get only the base pay, according to the terms of his contract.
According to presidents’ salaries for 2018, compiled in July by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Daniels’ total compensation ranked fourth among Big Ten presidents, behind those at Penn State, Northwestern and Ohio State.
Trustee Tom Spurgeon cited increases in fundraising, including a growing number of individual donors and an Ever True campaign that raised $2.5 billion, 25 percent more than the $2.019 billion goal. He also mentioned Purdue’s continued tuition freeze and advances in programs that have students getting degrees in shorter times.
Trustee Mike Berghoff said the at-risk system, something Daniels asked to put into his contract, has worked by giving Daniels and the university goals “that were ramped up every year.”
“I think one of the things you can’t measure is the effectiveness of him as a leader and people believing in him as a leader,” said Noah Scott, a Purdue student and trustee. “He’s viewed as a celebrity by students and alumni. … People believe in him as a leader, and people are going to succeed because they believe he’s advocating on their behalf and do the right thing when it comes down to it.”
For his first two, full fiscal years, Daniels was guaranteed $420,000, with $126,000 – or 30 percent of his base pay – in what Purdue called “at-risk” pay.
In 2015, the trustees gave Daniels a raise when they extended his contract through June 2020. He continued to be guaranteed $420,000, but the at-risk portion grew to $210,000, or 50 percent of his base salary. The trustees also built in a retention bonus, starting at $100,000 in 2016 and increased by $50,000 each year he stays as president. He will be in line to get a $250,000 retention bonus in 2019 and $300,000 in 2020.
For 2019, trustees gave Daniels a raise to $430,500 in his base pay.
After 2020, Daniels will move to a year-to-year contract, approved in April 2018, that would pay him up the same terms as in the final year of his current contract.