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News Clips 03/19/2013
No Escalade in college president's contract
Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 03/19/13
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By Katy Bergen
Months later, State College of Florida trustees still couldn't resist talking about the Escalade.
The luxury vehicle that former president Lars Hafner had requested months before his October departure — the car that had become a symbol of overindulgence and taxpayer money — crept into the conversation Monday when trustees finalized a contract for new president Carol Probtsfeld that specifically caps some of her benefits and ties a portion of her compensation to performance goals.
But for the board, all of whom have been appointed by Gov. Rick Scott in the past two years, the big hold-up was still what car she would drive.
"I'm not talking about an Escalade," said new trustee Rick Hager, as the board debated whether the SCF president should continue the tradition of driving a college vehicle. "For 50 years, this college owned a car for the president, and it was never a problem because it was never an extravagant car."
Others, like trustee Eric Robinson — who joked about receiving photographs of Escalades in the mail when he was named to the board — said he felt that the college should turn away from the practice.
In the end, trustees allowed for both.
Probstfeld will use the 2008 Lexus RX 400 currently owned by the college, and can later opt for a monthly automobile allowance of $1,500 to drive her personal car.
Other measures in the contract approved Monday indicated a desire to be fiscally conservative in the wake of the departure of Hafner, who left SCF in October with a $363,000 settlement deal after months of butting heads with trustees about the costs of college projects.
Probstfeld will earn a $235,000 base salary, an increase from the $147,000 she earned as the vice president of business and administrative services.
But she will receive no severance pay if she is fired with cause — for breaking the law or failing to perform in the eyes of the board — or if she quits voluntarily.
Otherwise, she is eligible for the 20 weeks of severance pay that state statutes allow for.
The contract also caps the college's contributions to her retirement benefits at $30,000. Though Probstfeld can earn additional money for a tax annuity plan by meeting seven specific performance goals, she cannot be awarded more than $25,000.
Probstfeld has previously said she is fine with having to meet goals such as increasing student enrollment by 2 percent next fall and improving community partnerships in order to receive more retirement money.
Board Chairman Carlos Beruff advocated a simple process for monitoring Probstfeld's progress. The new president's entire contract will be evaluated in 12 months, when trustees could tweak or update her performance goals, he said.
"This is 'Here we are. What did we do? What didn't we do?'" Beruff said.
Probstfeld will receive $20,000 to move to Manatee or Sarasota counties from her current home in Pinellas County, as well as $1,000 of extra income for expenses she incurs as president.