Former Clark Atlanta University President William Broadnax was paid $1.1 million for the 2008-09 fiscal year, his last year in office. That put him among the 30 top-paid presidents of private colleges in the nation. The payout to Broadnax was more than 1 percent of the university's $86.6 million operating budget.
During his tenure at CAU, Broadnax's annual pay and deferred compensation, usually totaled more than $400,000 a year, among the top if not above the pay range at comparable institutions, said a college compensation expert.
CAU, with an enrollment of 3,800 students, has struggled financially in recent years, even before the recession.
The news outraged current and former professors, among whom Broadnax had been deeply unpopular.
"That is criminal," said retired professor Bob Holmes. "On what basis did the board of trustees agree to that? It's not a golden parachute because he didn't have a contract after five years. ... The alumni association should file a lawsuit against the board for malfeasance."
Broadnax contended his compensation package was closer to $800,000 than $1.1 million although he was unable to give an exact figure. He said he was guaranteed a retirement package when he became president because he had left a secure position at American University and would have to make unpopular decisions at Clark Atlanta. He is currently the Distinguished Professor of Public Administration at Syracuse University in New York.
The 66-year-old said the university had drained its endowment of $40 million for operating expenses before he came aboard and was teetering on bankruptcy. He had to to fire faculty and eliminate programs.
"What you see is the honoring of a contract," he said of his compensation. "They (the trustees) understood it was giong to be a fairly rough road if I did the things that needed to be done
"The only reason Clark Atlanta is still around is because of the steps we took and they were tough."
Clark Atlanta spokeswoman Donna Brock said the reported payout to Broadnax of $1,158,537 was correct and part of it was contractual. She didn't know the amount.
Ray Cotton, an expert on compensation for university presidents, said some of the pay may have been in the form of deferred compensation, but he questioned the wisdom of awarding that much to Broadnax.
“The fact of the matter is he received that amount of money in one fiscal year," said Cotton, a lawyer based in Washington. "With regard to Clark Atlanta peer institutions, that is an extraordinarily high number."
Only one other metro Atlanta college president came close to Broadnax's compensation. Emory University President James W. Wagner also received slightly more than $1 million.
Brock said current CAU President Carlton Brown does not have a retirement package.