Mary Spilde, former President of Lane Community College, will be making over $300,000 per year in pension payments.
Spilde is among the top ten recipients of the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System, a retirement fund for the state’s employees. Spilde had served over 36 years in the Oregon public education system, 16 as the president of LCC, before retiring in May 2017.
“In President Spilde’s case, her final compensation included payouts for large amounts of accrued leave, vacation time, etc.,” Chair of LCC Board of Education Rosie Pryor said in an email.
The Oregonian shows that Spilde has an annual benefit of $309,437 – 91 percent of her final average salary of $338,630. The PERS formula that Spilde’s pension is based on is intended to give her 50 percent of her final salary, which would be $169,315. This final payout is an inflation of Spilde’s initial final salary of $227,551.
Pryor said that pension compensations for all LCC employees are based “on achievement, market comparables and the college’s budgetary position.” Spilde’s pension benefits were largely based on her accomplishments.
“During her tenure as president, Mary worked virtually 24/7 for LCC,” Pryor said, “Even when in Scotland taking care of her 100-year-old mother, Mary participated telephonically in meetings on a daily basis. The commitment of the board to ensure this dedicated employee was fully compensated for all time and benefits earned is a mark of integrity.”
Jim Salt, the president of the LCC Education Association, finds Spilde’s large retirement benefits to be unacceptable, considering that the faculty union has “always had to fight to protect faculty members’ salaries” to account for cost of living changes and inflation. He added that LCC faced a “budget crisis” each year that Spilde was president, and because she was often not physically present during board decisions, “problems weren’t fixed and people weren’t held accountable.”
“The idea that this could be justified is ridiculous,” Salt said, because it blatantly ignores faculty input regarding Spilde’s work as president.
In 2015, the LCCEA presented the results of a faculty survey on the president, administration and the Board of Education at LCC. In regards to various aspects of Spilde’s work as president, an average of 42 percent of faculty members voted Spilde’s work as “unsatisfactory.”
Directly above Spilde on the list of the highest-ranking PERS beneficiaries is former Oregon Health & Science University surgeon Robert Norton, who earns a yearly benefit of $321,316. The top-ranking PERS beneficiary is Joseph Robertson, the former president of the OHSU, who brings in 58 percent of his final average salary every year: $913,335. Only 17.6 percent of PERS beneficiaries earn over $50,000 in pension benefits annually, according to The Oregonian.