- Associated Press - Thursday, June 5, 2014

AMES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa State University President Steven Leath received a $33,000 annual raise and a new five-year contract Thursday, in a show of support for his leadership from the school’s governing board.

Meeting on the Iowa State campus in Ames, the Board of Regents voted to boost Leath’s pay by 7.1 percent to $500,000 after conducting performance evaluations of the state’s three public universities during a daylong closed session. Regents also gave him a new deferred compensation package that would allow him to collect $625,000 - essentially an annual retention bonus of $125,000 - only if he stays through 2019.

The new contract replaces a three-year deal given to Leath before he started as the school’s 15th president in January 2012. In another key job protection, the regents agreed to make Leath eligible to seek tenure for the first time. If later approved by the faculty and regents as expected, that means Leath would be guaranteed a lower-paying job as a professor when his presidency ends. He is a plant pathologist by training.

“The board feels very good about the job he is doing and growing into and wanted to encourage him to stay,” Board President Bruce Rastetter told The Associated Press after the meeting.

The board approved a 2.5 percent salary increase for University of Iowa President Sally Mason, bumping her annual pay to $525,000. Mason, who has at times faced criticism from the board, continues to work without a contract after regents let her five-year deal expire without renewal in 2012. She has a $150,000 per-year deferred compensation agreement that runs through 2016, which wasn’t changed.

University of Northern Iowa President Bill Ruud, who just completed his first year as president, also received a 2.5 percent raise that increased his salary to $348,000.

Rastetter said the regents were pleased by progress at all three universities. He singled out Leath’s management of the university’s record 33,000-student enrollment and the research and economic development initiatives he has advanced. Rastetter also praised Leath for “his outreach across the state and what he’s done to raise the reputation nationally of the university.”

Rastetter said that making Leath eligible for tenure was done at the request of faculty members who believe he should have that protection, which Mason enjoys but Ruud does not.

“I appreciate the support of the Board of Regents and their vote of confidence in the work we’re doing at Iowa State,” said Leath, who came to Iowa State after serving as vice president for research in the University of North Carolina system. “This is an exciting time, and I’m proud to be leading Iowa State.”

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