Nice perks: A review of the contracts of NM’s two-year college presidents

By Rob Nikolewski on December 12, 2013
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By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog

SANTA FE — If you want to work somewhere with plenty of vacation and sick days, it’s hard to beat a job as the president of one of New Mexico’s eight independent two-year colleges.

The compensation packages for at least four of those presidents allows a minimum of 20 vacation days — the equivalent of a month — and 10 sick days, although two of the presidents told they never come close to using them each year.

A review of the overall compensation packages conducted by the , a free-market think tank based in Albuquerque, indicates that the generosity of the perks depended on how the packages were negotiated.

“Of the four institutes where vacation days were a separately-negotiated item, the number of vacation days averaged 25.75, ranging from as high as 30 down to 22,” the review said. “When vacation was not negotiated, vacation days allowed were significantly fewer.”

Here’s the breakdown for the chief executives at all eight taxpayer-supported schools:

has the most generous vacation-sick day package. He’s eligible for six weeks of vacation and four weeks of sick days.

“This is a contract that the New Mexico Junior College board came up with,” McCleery said in a telephone interview. “The vacation days are very generous … I think it was important to the board to negotiate a contract on behalf of the board and the president that they felt was competitive … It’s not a sticking point. If they came back and said, we’re going to lower that, that’s fine.”

PERKS OF THE JOB: A review of the contracts of presidents of two-year colleges in New Mexico shows generous vacation and sick day packages.

“It was part of my contract negotiations,” said . “I think the better question is to get records of how long people have been gone. I’ve never taken two weeks (vacation) in succession (in a given year).”

McCleery agreed.

“In my job, I can’t see being away for any length of time because you just fall behind,” he said.

When schools hire potential presidents, the respective boards of regents negotiate the contracts.

“It’s somewhat of an incentive” to attract high-quality candidates, said , the chairman of the , which negotiated a deal with president that includes 24 vacation days, two personal days and 13 sick days.

“It’s in line with some of the other (community colleges). It makes for an incentive. It would be if I was looking for a job,” Moore said.

Unused days off often can be rolled over each year, up to a limit. For example, McCleery’s contract allows him to accrue up to 60 unused vacation days.

The review cites numbers from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics that say the average number of paid vacation days for top earners in the listing for “Professional, Technical and Related Employees” is 17.8 days, about 45 percent less than for the eight New Mexico two-year college presidents.

The BLS average number of sick days is 10.6 days, while the average for the New Mexico schools is 14.3.

Most of the eight presidents also receive car and housing allowances.

makes out well in those two categories. a replacement vehicle every two years and, , the house in which she lives is valued at $550,000 in an estimate by

Four of the presidents also are eligible for salary bonuses, with McCleery heading the list.

According to the director of administrative services at New Mexico Junior College, McCleery is eligible to receive up to $53,200 during his three-year contract. McCleery, who has served as president for 16 years, received $28,500 before taxes this summer.

to see the Rio Grande Foundation report, which has links to the compensation agreements at all eight schools.

Contact Rob Nikolewski at r[email protected] and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski

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