OHSU’s Top Executives Won’t Get Bonuses After All

Eight of president Danny Jacobs’ direct reports were poised to share almost $1 million.

The aerial tram at Oregon Health & Science University. (Christine Dong)

Easy come, easy go.

Until this week, the eight executive VPs at Oregon Health & Science University were poised to share in “President’s Recognition Award” bonuses of $12.5 million that university president Dr. Danny Jacobs planned to hand out to about 10% of his 19,765 employees.

First reported by WW two weeks ago (“Brass in Pocket,” Sept. 27), news of the six-figure awards for top executives irked many employees, including thousands who are in six unions and got nothing from the program. In response, the unions circulated a petition last week demanding that executive vice presidents, the top layer of managers, decline the “egregious” payouts.

On Monday, Jacobs told his lieutenants that they wouldn’t be getting the money after all—removing $947,140 in total from their holiday stockings. But, according to OHSU spokeswoman Sara Hottman, the reversal had nothing to do with opposition from employees. Rather, OHSU tallied up the number of eligible employees below the EVP level and figured out that the $12.5 million wouldn’t stretch far enough up the food chain to include them. That was always the plan, Hottman said in an email. Nothing was “rescinded.”

“After verifying the pool of qualified UA members, Dr. Jacobs has determined the EVPs are not eligible for these awards,” Hottman wrote. “UA” stands for “unclassified administrative” and describes workers not on the faculty, in research or in a union.

EVPs were among those who stood to make the most from the President’s Awards. Their take was to be 15.9% of their base salary, according to a slide describing the plan that was obtained by WW last month, when the program was announced.

The big winner among the EVPs would have been John Hunter, chief executive of OHSU Health, its network of clinics and hospitals. Hunter makes $1.15 million a year, and his bonus would have been $183,000. Lawrence Furnstahl, EVP and chief financial officer, would have done second best. He earns a base salary of $954,384, making his bonus $151,747.

In all, OHSU’s eight top executives were slated to get $947,000.

Jen Laverdure, vice president at American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 328, one of the unions that circulated the petition, said that denying the EVPs their bonuses is a start. The unions had asked that the whole $12.5 million be used to compensate low-wage OHSU workers, many of whom drive Uber and Lyft to make ends meet, and to pay residents who work 16-hour shifts. “Our demand was not just ‘don’t give the bonuses’ but to spend it on those that do the work,” Laverdure says.

Jacobs himself wasn’t in the bonus pool, but he does pretty well without it. His annual salary is $1.6 million. Presidents at academic medical centers often make more than leaders of plain old universities, but for comparison’s sake, Jayathi Murthy, the president of Oregon State University, is paid a base salary of $423,000 and gets $227,000 from the OSU Foundation. John Karl Scholz, president of University of Oregon, makes a base salary of $725,000.

Bonuses Lost

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