Auditor’s report highlights $2M of ‘inappropriate’ payments to UM System execs

A scathing new report by Missouri state auditor Nicole Galloway points to hidden bonuses, incentives and allowances of more than $2 million paid to top administrators of the University of Missouri System over the past three years.

The report, released Monday, was the result of an audit of the UM System Board of Curators and administration. Galloway highlighted what she called “inappropriate” payments and incentives, some of which, she said, may have violated the Missouri Constitution.

The audit found that R. Bowen Loftin, the former chancellor of the University of Missouri campus in Columbia, was paid a salary for six months after he resigned from his position in November 2015, amounting to $230,000. Loftin resigned after protests by African-American students over racially charged incidents on campus that year. Loftin had no official position or duties during the six months he received compensation.

Hank Foley, who’s currently serving as interim chancellor of the Columbia campus, approved a new position for Loftin with a salary of $344,000, almost 75 percent of his full salary as chancellor. The new position was “Director of National Security Research Development,” whose duties were not supported by the UM system’s strategic plans, according to the report. Loftin was paid an additional $100,000 for travel, vehicle budget and an annual stipend.

Payments of $1.2 million were made to top UM System executives and administrators from 2015 to 2017 without specifying the criteria for the payments, according to the report. The audit also found that most of these were made without formal approval of the Board of Curators.

The amounts included incentive payments, as well as vehicle and travel allowances. While incentive payments are routinely tied to a clear process and objective metrics, these payments had no such criteria attached to them. These payments were not included in the published salaries of executives, reducing transparency to the public, according to the report.

The report also criticized nearly $400,000 in vehicle allowances made to top executive and administrative positions, calling them “excessive” and stating that they resulted in a “lack of transparency” in executive compensation.

Mun Choi, who started Wednesday as the UM System’s new president, defended the executive compensation in a statement, saying that “our executive compensation program is critical to our capacity to attract and retain top leaders in what is an extremely competitive national higher education market.”

Such incentives are used by other peer institutions and “generally do not exceed the median of the market,” the UM System said in the statement.


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