JMI Capital Report
State College President Resigns Amid $837k Salary Scandal
By Will Patrick – November 16, 2011
Edison State College President Kenneth Walker announced this week he will resign from his executive position at the southwest Florida former community college after a damaging report released by the Florida Auditor General questioned Walker’s $837,085 annual salary—an amount three times the state limit.
In 2010-11, Walker received a base salary of $322,400 with bonuses and cash equivalents totaling roughly $515,000. In addition, Walker’s contract as district President was set to end June 30, 2014 and included a 12 month sabbatical leave.
In 2010, the Florida Legislature passed a new statute limiting the total compensation of state college presidents to $225,000 annually (including salary, bonuses, and all other compensation except health insurance and retirement benefits). Walker receives the maximum $225,000, an additional $277,705 from a college Auxiliary Fund, and $273,932 from other revenue sources.
So while technically legal, the ethical concern is how Walker’s salary is justified—the central question of the report. Why should Walker receive large payouts from the college auxiliary reserve fund and monies accumulated from other college revenue sources (not expressly identified in the audit) when these resources could be used to lower tuition?
Edison State’s board responded to an initial inquiry from the Auditor General by stating President Walker’s salary was rooted in the board’s “Compensation Philosophy” and is in line with similar state colleges. However, Miami Dade College has over five times as many full-time students and pays its president over $200,000 less.
Since the controversy first broke several deans and senior staffers have resigned and two vice presidents have been dismissed. Governor Rick Scott has also appointed four new board members who are tasked with a detailed review of the Auditor General’s findings. Edison State College will next be visited by a state reaccreditation team.
Walker’s contract was amended two months prior to the effective date of the compensatory limiting statute and he received four significant pay increases in less than three years.
Edison State College is under the general direction and control of the Florida Department of Education and the Division of Florida Colleges.