NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—In a closed-door meeting, the Rutgers University Board of Governors gave President Robert Barchi a bonus, a retroactive raise, and a sweet new deal that could keep him on the university payroll well into 2018.
Barchi, age 69, already earned $663,000 every year, $263,000 more than the President of the United States and almost four times as much as the state’s Governor.
He also gets a free house in Piscataway and a myriad of other perks.
It was the second time in less than a year that the Board of Governors secretly voted to give Barchi a retroactive raise behind closed doors. In July 2015, they upped his salary from $650,000 to $663,000 without publicizing it.
Under the new deal that was only made public on February 23, Barchi recieved a retroactive raise to a $676,260 annual salary, plus a $97,000 bonus.
Barchi’s public income from Rutgers, which has consistently raised tuition as its budget was stretched thinner with each passing year, comes on top of more than $1 million he has made from private investments, including two side jobs with companies that do business with the school.
As we reported in 2015, Barchi was paid $100,000 to serve on the Board of Directors at VWR International, the same laboratory supply company that made nearly $15 million off their contracts with Rutgers between 2008 and 2013.
Just ten days after Barchi took office at Rutgers, the medical school agreed to extend a contract with VWR International for an additional year.
Barchi also previously served on the board of another company that did business with Rutgers. Princeton-based Covance paid Barchi $226,295 in 2014 to serve on the board in 2014, while it continued to sell to the school.
The following year the company was sold to Labcorp, another Rutgers vendor, in a $6 billion deal that may have netted Barchi some $639,495 in cash and stock.
Barchi led Rutgers through a time of transition and controversy, as it absorbed the embattled University of Medicine & Dentistry of NJ, switched athletic conferences to the powerful Big Ten, and embarked on the first major expansion of the flagship College Avenue campus in decades.
Meanwhile, on campus, Barchi has been known for a hands-off approach, with student groups and journalists finding him to be less accessible than his predecessor.
Barchi owns homes in Philadelphia and in Maine, and frequently travels out of state, leaving much of his decision-making authority to his three Chancellors, based in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden.
His administration has also been marred by a number of athletics and public safety scandals, two categories that intersected in September 2015 when more than a half-dozen current and former football players were arrested and charged with violent crimes.
The school’s football coach, who was paid even more than Barchi was also suspended after he was found to have violated academic integrity rules, and fired at the end of the season, along with Barchi’s Athletic Director.
Barchi has also been disliked by the unions representing faculty, staff, and other workers at the university, which is the largest employer in the county.
Though Barchi has been considered by some as a lame-duck, and not expected to stay longer than his five-year contract, he now stands a chance to get a full extra year of pay for no work if he lasts another 16 months in the top job.
Barchi serves at the pleasure of the school’s Board of Governors, and can be let go at any time, but he is currently under contract to serve as President through June 30, 2017.
Barchi would be entitled to a full year of paid “sabbatical” if he survives in the job through that date.
Though sabbaticals are usually approved to allow faculty to conduct research or work on academic writings, Barchi will not be required to return to the school in any way, shape, or form.
If he chooses to return to Rutgers, Barchi would be entitled to a highly-favorable deal similar to the “golden parachute” given to his predecessor has: a promise to make him the highest-paid professor at the school, excluding medical school faculty.
Previous President Richard McCormick, who lasted ten years in the position and left in 2013, also enjoyed a paid sabbatical before returning to make a $335,000 salary teaching in the school’s History Department.
Barchi was eligible for a bonus of $99,450, or 15% of his base salary, as he is each year under the contract. He will be eligible for annual bonuses of up to $101,439 at his next closed-door “performance review.”
This year was the third straight year Barchi got a bonus on par with the average household income in Middlesex County.
In 2013, Barchi received a $90,000 bonus but chose to give it back to the university to fund scholarships. The next year he was given a $95,000 bonus.
A Rutgers official said that he has no plan to give back the latest bonus, his biggest yet.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.