Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham has received a new six-year contract.
The Board of Trustees approved the contract Thursday afternoon. It replaces the current contract and takes Oldham’s employment through 2028.
Trustee Tom Jones said it is a big step forward for the university.
“This is not something that I would have entered into or proposed six, eight or even 10 years ago,” Jones said. “This is something that is I think appropriate to do at this point in this president’s career and tenure at the university. I think it’s at the right time.”
Board Chair Trudy Harper said the board’s goal was to institutionalize some performance metrics for the president and bring his compensation in line with surrounding institutions.
“Also to get him to a place that I believe is representative of market both in terms of compensation and in terms of a contract,” Harper said. “I have spent a lot of time looking at what our peer institutions have done.”
The contract also includes a retention bonus. For each year of service, Oldham would receive a retention bonus on June 30th that tops out at $100,000 after several years.
For example, Oldham would receive $25,000 this year. In 2023, he would receive $50,000. In 2024 and 2025, the retention bonus increases to $75,000. The bonus then caps at $100,000 for 2026, 2027, 2028 and thereafter.
The contract has Oldham’s annual salary at $375,000. It does not include annual raises. Harper said that would be decided upon following the executive committee’s annual review.
“I feel good that will get us comparable to our peers that is our legitimate peers,” Harper said. “We have a couple of LGI (Locally Governed Institutions) institutions that are leading larger institutions in larger cities with different demographics, but for our university, I think this is appropriate.”
The contract has performance metrics that focus on enrollment, student success, university development, research and campus improvements. Jones said he likes the structure of the contract, but the unknown of the future could change the metrics.
“Nobody predicted COVID for example, and during this time, enrollment numbers were a challenge,” Jones said. “Things may change in the the economy, in the world that may affect how the university moves forward. We have to be prepared to understand that we may have to adapt.”
Trustee Dan Alcott calls the contract an improvement, because a bonus after the fact means the university would need to find the money.