Incentive pay plan for UNC fundraising chief raises eyebrows

By Todd Cohen

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — In a highly unusual move, the board of trustees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Thursday approved a proposal by Chancellor Carol Folt to let the next vice chancellor for development receive incentive pay of up to 25 percent of his or her base pay by meeting goals set by Folt.

UNC, which is searching for a permanent fundraising chief, now can pay the new vice chancellor up to nearly $396,000 a year, based on a maximum set by General Administration for the 17-campus UNC system, according to The Herald-Sun in Durham.

That means the new vice chancellor could earn nearly $99,000 in incentive pay in addition to his or her base pay.

Speculation is that Folt may have a candidate in mind who already is paid over $500,000 a year, or wants to be paid that amount.

Incentive pay, if based on a percentage of contributions, could run counter to ethical principles for fundraising because it could give at least the appearance that, in soliciting gifts from donors, fundraising professionals might be acting in their own self-interest and also might be trying to secure a gift sooner than they otherwise would have.

Folt, former interim president at Dartmouth, succeeded Holden Thorp on July 1 after he resigned last September in the face of a controversy involving Matt Kupec, who the same week quit as vice chancellor for university advancement.

Earlier this year, before taking office but after she was hired, Folt participated in the decision to dismiss search firm Witt/Kieffer from the search for Kupec’s permanent successor.

Thorp had initiated the search after he announced his resignation but before he stepped down this summer.

Search firm Isaacson, Miller since has been hired to conduct the search.

Julia Sprunt Grumbles, former corporate vice president at Turner Broadcasting, is serving as interim vice chancellor for university advancement.

Thorp hired her after Kupec quit.

In the face of all the maneuvers over filling the University’s chief fundraising job, the plans for a long-delayed comprehensive campaign that at one time was expected to total $3 billion remain in limbo.

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