Jan. 8, 2014

Written by
Aki Soga
Free Press Editorial Page Editor

University of Vermont’s failure to make a timely announcement of 
Athletic Director Robert Corran’s contract extension and raise is a 
disservice to Corran, the UVM community and Vermonters.
UVM made no public announcement when Corran was granted in July a 
three-year contract extension that includes a $35,000 raise — a nearly 
18 percent increase over his $199,283 salary for the 2012-2013 school 

The information came to light following a public records request by 
the Free Press. The university’s silence about Corran’s contract 
raises the notion that UVM has something to hide.

Tom Gustafson, UVM vice president for administration and university 
relations, said the aim was to bring Corran’s salary, which was among 
the lowest for athletic directors in America East and Hockey East, “to 
get him to the median of his peers.”

In explaining the pay increase, Gustafson told the Free Press, “We’ve 
not had any NCAA problems ... we are dealing with pretty marginal 
facilities, and I think he does a great job.”

He called Corran “one of the best ADs in America.”

Yet the university felt no need to laud Corran publicly for his 
performance in connection with his raise until asked by the Free Press.

There’s nothing wrong with rewarding good performance, something UVM 
should be celebrating. Paying a good administrator at least as well as 
others in his field to keep at the school is a commendable goal.

Corran oversaw tough budget years when UVM cut baseball and softball 
from the school’s varsity sports programs to save money. During his 
tenure, UVM won seven consecutive America East Academic Cups, an award 
recognizing the school with the highest grade point average among its 
student athletes.

All that is tainted when the information is revealed only after a 
public records request.

Perhaps UVM is still sensitive to being perceived as handing out 
lavish compensation to top executives after the controversy over 
former President Daniel Fogel’s 2011 severance package valued at 
nearly $500,000 that Gov. Shumlin called “exorbitant.”

An 18-percent raise might seem rich to UVM faculty and staff whose 
hard-won union contracts afford them raise of 4, 5 or 6 percent over 
two or three years.

Cost is also a constant concern for a school that went through severe 
austerity measures as recently as 2009 and has a regular top-five spot 
on rankings of costliest public universities in the nation.

The UVM community has much fodder for a rich and relevant debate about 
the school’s athletic program and pay for top administrators. That’s a 
discussion that can only happen when the university is open about even 
potentially controversial compensation decisions.

And if UVM has nothing to hide, then the school should celebrate an 
employee who deserves such rewards.