Governance Violations + Financial Failure + Layoffs = Presidential Bonus


Just about 18 months after ending up on the AAUP’s list of censured administrations, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is once again in the news.

Many readers of this blog will recall that the center’s embattled president, Dr. Ronald DePinho, figured prominently in the April 2015 report produced by an AAUP investigating committee. The list of President DePinho’s misdeeds was so long that UT System Chancellor William McRaven directed him in July 2015–just one month after the AAUP annual meeting’s vote to add the center to the censure list–to establish a “shared governance committee” to help move the institution to a “democratic system” of governance after “years of turmoil and plunging [faculty] morale.”

It is unclear what the shared governance committee has accomplished. But in a statement issued today, President DePinho announced that he had accepted the committee’s recommendation to immediately begin laying off 800-900 employees from the center over which he presides. According to the Houston Chronicle, the center, one of the city’s largest employers, is “financially failing.”

What to do with a president who demonstrates such astonishing ineptitude? Why, give him a bonus, of course!

The same Chronicle article reports that the UT System “awards [performance] bonuses annually to top executives in lieu of raises, a compensation program that officials say makes presidential performance more accountable.” As it turns out, President DePinho received the largest such bonus of any of the 11 presidents in the UT System: $208,000.

One is left to wonder how exactly such a compensation program makes presidents more accountable. After all, President DePinho was publicly scolded by his boss for disregarding basic principles of due process and academic governance. He proceeded to oversee, according to the Chronicle article, “$110 million in operational losses in the September-through-November quarter” of 2016. And now he’s awarded the largest bonus of any UT System president this year. That’s accountability?

To his credit, President DiPinho is donating his $208,000 bonus to the center that he has consistently mismanaged over the last roughly five years. Without the bonus, his total annual compensation for fiscal year 2016 is $1.85M.

Institutional leadership at its finest.

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