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OSU dishes out millions to employees in bonuses

Ohio State made seven of its employees millionaires last year – and that’s just from bonuses.

Seven OSU employees received bonuses of more than $1 million in 2011. Additionally, 25 employees were paid bonuses of $100,000 or more, according to payroll records.

The university handed out 4,028 bonuses in 2011, more than double the 1,693 given in 2010. Thirteen employees on OSU’s 2011 payroll earned more than $1 million in salary, including men’s basketball coach Thad Matta and former football coach Jim Tressel.

Matta made more money than all other OSU employees in 2011, grossing about $2.2 million with a bonus of more than $1,095,000. Steven Jack Kalbfleisch, an OSU clinical professor of cardiovascular medicine, raked in the biggest bonus of almost $1.4 million, with an annual salary of more than $2 million. Tressel ended up making more than $1.8 million in 2011, with a bonus of more than $1 million.

Jim Lynch, an OSU spokesman, said some of the money spent in bonuses was paid out as part of the athletics department, which does not rely on tuition or tax dollars.

“More than 10 percent of the money spent in bonuses were part of the Athletics Department,” Lynch said. “Bonuses for coaches and assistant coaches are all defined in their performance-based contracts.”

Daniel Brandt, a third-year in natural resources management, said though the numbers are high, they are expected in an athletic setting.

“In the culture of sports, one of the main reasons why the school made so much money this year was because of Jim Tressel and the football program,” Brandt said. “I don’t know if that’s fair or not, but the football program generates a lot of revenue that goes back to the school.”

The four remaining employees who received $1 million bonuses were all employees at the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State and clinical professors or assistant professors.

Lynch said the medical center is self-sustaining. It was named by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Hospitals for the 19th consecutive year.

“Many of the university bonuses from 2011 are within our nationally recognized Wexner Medical Center, which does not operate using any tuition or tax dollars,” Lynch said. “The Wexner Medical Center is a self-sustaining operation.”

In 2011, OSU paid its employees more than $25.6 million in bonuses with a payroll totaling $1.8 billion for 2011. As the number of bonuses more than doubled, there was an 88.8 percent increase in the bonus pay OSU dished out to its employees.

Daniel Jeffries, a third-year in theater, said he does not agree with the big bonuses.

“I’m not saying they don’t deserve it, but that’s a lot of money that we’ll never see and it could be going somewhere else,” Jeffries said. “With professors, a lot of them don’t really teach and have teaching assistants do a lot of their work. Actions are bigger than words.”

The 7.6 percent payroll increase from 2010 to 2011 not only outpaced the 3 percent inflation rate, but also came after the Board of Trustees approved a 3.5 percent tuition increase for the same year.

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