Warrington opposes Machen bonus


Published: Saturday, December 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

In a surprise move, University of Florida trustee Al Warrington voted Friday against awarding UF President Bernie Machen $285,000 in bonuses.

Warrington, a Texan for whom UF's College of Business is named, was the lone opposition to awarding the performance bonus to Machen. As such, Machen was still awarded his bonus, which keeps his total compensation at a level of $727,000 - making him the sixth-highest paid public university president in the nation, according to a recent survey in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Machen has never been denied his performance bonus during his four years at UF.

During the meeting, Warrington did not disclose why he opposed awarding the bonus. Asked about it afterward, he was mostly mum.

"It's administration, OK," he said. "I'll just say that. There's so many things he does right, but pure administration needs to be addressed."

Warrington said he got "new information" on Thursday that persuaded him to vote against the bonus.

"I got new information that supports the thesis I've been following," he said.

Warrington, who heads a waste management company and has given millions to UF, has parted with his colleagues on the board several times before. A conservative, Warrington twice voted against benefits and protections for gay and lesbian employees at UF.

Warrington's slight of Machen comes as UF trustees are considering whether to extend Machen's contract. Machen is entering his fifth year as UF chief, and trustees are expected to extend or end his contract before January.

Warrington wouldn't comment on how he'd vote when trustees consider Machen's contract.

Machen's bonus is based on his fulfillment of goals, which include raising money and improving the academic quality and diversity of the student body. Machen surpassed all the quantitative goals set for him, save growing the size of the faculty. UF had a net loss of 19 faculty last year, a drop trustees attribute to budget shortfalls.

Diana Morgan, chairwoman of UF's board, said Warrington applies a very "tough standard" in his presidential evaluations.

Morgan added that she did not think Machen should be worried about his contract extension.

"I think we're very pleased with the course we're on," said Morgan, former senior vice president of public affairs for Walt Disney World. "We think we have one of the best presidents in the country."

Several trustees interviewed by The Sun declined to say how they'd vote on his contract extension, but expressed support for Machen's work.

Machen said he was blindsided by Warrington's vote.

"He never mentioned it to me once," Machen said.

Machen said he didn't know why Warrington opposed the bonuses, but noted that "he is a strong advocate for the business school, and we have not made some changes that he wanted for the business school."

Machen didn't elaborate on any disagreement between the two, other than to say "funding issues" were involved.

"I have no problem," Machen said. "Twelve to one (vote) works for me."

John Kraft, dean of the College of Business, said he hadn't spoken to Warrington about the vote and didn't know what Warrington's reasons might have been. He did say, however, that Warrington "has been concerned about the declining size of the faculty."

Jack Stripling can be reached at 352-374-5064 or Jack.Stripling@gvillesun.com.

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