Mason responds to media coverage of husband's salary

BY ASMAA ELKEURTI | MAY 09, 2012 6:30 AM

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UI President Sally Mason said she is disappointed in the media's portrayal of the paid fundraising position husband Ken Mason, also a UI biology lecturer, holds at the university.

"Fundraising in particular is such a fundamental responsibility for the president and the president's spouse in this day and age," Mason told The Daily Iowan. "I was a little disappointed that there was any question that this wasn't somehow very legitimate."

Ken Mason receives $53,400 per year as a lecturer and makes an additional $54,175 each year through the UI Foundation as presidential fundraiser — in which he attends athletics and outreach events, President Club events, Board of Director meetings, and IClub meetings.

President Mason said she wanted her husband to work at the university and negotiated for his fundraising position with the Board of Regents but did not negotiate for anything else during the hiring process.

"It was very quickly accepted and accomplished, but I didn't negotiate for anything else either," she said. "That was really the only thing important to me."

Regent Robert Downer said he doesn't believe Ken Mason's compensation for his positions at the UI is excessive.

"It's important to remember that Dr. Kenneth Mason is a professional in his own right, and I believe because of his duties he has had by virtue of President Mason's decision, he has been able to hold less than full-time appointment on the faculty," Downer said. "And the overall compensation that he receives is not excessive for someone who has the professional credentials that he has, were he full-time as a teaching faculty member."

President Mason said since she and her husband joined the UI in 2007, they've contributed to two of the most successful years of fundraising efforts and have brought more than $840 million to the school.

"I'm really glad I have him as a partner, so when we do go to events, I can go off in one direction and meet lots of people and talk to them, and he goes off in another direction, and he talks with our donors and our alumni," she said. "We can cover a lot more ground that way."

UI spokesman Tom Moore said Ken Mason does not report to President Mason in order to avoid conflicts of interest, going instead through the UI Provost's Office.

Moore also said Ken Mason's financial arrangements were within state governing rules.

"[Board of Regents] guidelines say you should pay spouses for fundraising activities," he said. "And it might be unusual in the state, but it's not unusual across the nation."

For the future, President Mason said she and her husband have a fundraising plan aimed at donors and alumni, set to launch next May with a goal of bringing $2 billion to the university over a 10-year period.

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