UNION COUNTY , NJ — Last year at Kean University, there were 170 administrators paid approximately $19 million in taxpayer dollars for working at a variety of positions. The highest paid was university president Dawood Farahi, who not only earned $293,550 last year but also took home a longevity bonus of $200,000.
The longevity bonus was the result of a rider the Kean Board of Trustees made to Farahi’s contract in 2008, guaranteeing him a $200,000 bonus if he stayed five years. That payment came due in 2014 and, as promised, Farahi was paid the bonus in addition to his regular annual salary of $293,550.
Although the university is still close to $330 million in debt, Kean just announced that they hired two more administrators, or senior managers, and promoted two others. The new hires are in addition to the 170 administrators already on staff.
One of the two promoted was Marsha McCarthy, who served for less than a year as director of media relations.
According to information released by the university, McCarthy assumed a dual role in the remaining months of 2014, serving both as the director of media relations and interim executive director of admissions. McCarthy assumes the position of acting vice president of enrollment management, a position that reports directly to Farahi.
Felice Vazquez, who previously worked for the law firm Weiner Lesniak from 2005 until she was hired by Kean in 2012 as special counsel to Farahi, was promoted earlier this month to acting associate vice president for strategic initiatives and special counsel at an annual salary of $131,899.
She will be serving as “leader in the development and the management of the Wenzhou-Kean University initiative,” after leading efforts to secure accreditation of the campus located in China.
The two new administrators hired to fill positions just created at Kean include Susan Kayne and Kenneth Green, who are both attorneys. Salaries for these positions were unavailable by press time.
Kayne will fill the role of vice-president of university relations. She will play a key role in the strategy, development and execution of marketing and communication efforts “that will further build the Kean brand” and move the institution forward, according to the school.
Green was brought aboard as chief labor counsel and management negotiator. He will handle all local and state labor negotiations on behalf of Kean. Green most recently served as director of employee relations for the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
According to information obtained through the Open Public Records Act, out of the 170 administrators earning $19 million in taxpayer dollars in 2013, seven made between $150,000 and $200,000 a year; 38 earned $100,000 to $150,000; 30 earned $90,000 to $99,000; 56 administrators earned $70,000 to $89,000 and the remaining earned between $50,000 and $69,000. There were no administrator salaries below $50,000.
Meanwhile, according to information obtained from Kathleen Henderson, president of the adjunct professor union, over 50 adjunct professors who have taught at Kean for a number of years were notified they would not be re-employed, effective this spring. Henderson said no explanations were provided for this move by the university.
This left many offices vacant, Henderson said, although Kean has hired over 100 lecturers, all to non-tenured positions.
Although many of these adjunct professors have opted to retire, apparently they are finding that obtaining documentation verifying their work history at the university has not been easy.
According to Henderson, apparently the retiring adjunct professors have been unable to obtain records of their employment at Kean and are being directed by the university human resources department to go directly to the Social Security Administration in order to obtain the records required.
Adjunct professors indicated that the university is having problems locating their records.
Henderson also mentioned in an email blast to the more than 1,000 university adjunct professors that “Kean’s focus on dumbing down things in an attempt to standardize learning is simply laughable.”
She explained that at a meeting she attended, the university president “even admitted” at a University Planning Council that “an undergraduate degree today is the equivalent to a high school degree from years ago.”
“This reflects on all of us as faculty,” Henderson said, pointing out that “many of us spent years raising the bar on our courses only to have new ED’s come in and force us to dumb down the courses. So much for academic freedom.”
“Not all universities can boast they spend $19 million annually on administrators, vice presidents, associates, assistant vice president’s, lawyers and buy $200,000-plus conference tables, build more buildings and expand to other countries such as Kean-Bangladesh, where we allegedly have a nursing program,” she said, adding “I hate to think what lies ahead for us in negotiations as time ticks forward towards June 30, 2015.”
“Knowing Dr. Farahi, Kean will survive, maybe not as a state institution as we know it, but it will survive,” said the head of the adjunct professors union who has worked at the university for more than 20 years.