Faculty shake their heads as Szymanski receives $85,000 bonus at BOT meeting

Carter Mudgett, News Editor

The Board of Trustees met today to discuss who would become the Interim President for UNF after President Szymanski becomes the CEO and Executive Director of MedNexus. One of the items up for discussion during the meeting was consideration for Szymanski’s bonus following a “presidential evaluation” of how well he had handled the past year. 

Photo by Justin Nedrow

The vast majority of comments from BOT members were made in support of Szymanski’s performance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Midway through the discussion, BOT Chairman Hyde made the suggestion that the Board vote to give Szymanski his “incentive compensation,” otherwise known as a bonus. 

A resounding “aye” echoed around the room as all members of the Board approved this move. More than one faculty member in attendance shook their heads in obvious disappointment at this turn of events.  Spinnaker reached out to all the faculty members present at the meeting and who made public comments. 

Photo by Justin Nedrow

Dr. Hope Wilson expressed her disappointment for the Board’s decision to approve Szymanski’s bonus, “particularly this week.”

“This week, all 9-month employees who have elected to have their paycheck spread over 12 months will not get a paycheck due to a lack of leadership from the university administration,” she said. Wilson called attention to the substantial effect that this has had on faculty over the past year and a half. 

“Preparing both emotionally and financially for the upcoming year, to miss half of our salary during the month is devastating to our finances,” Wilson said. “This is not something that we will easily recover from.

Wilson explained that the faculty union has worked hard to help correct this issue during bargaining sessions with the university administration. Despite all this, she said, “our efforts were not met with any resolution from the university leadership.”

She found it “shameful” that the BOT would award any financial gain to the president this week in particular. Especially a bonus that is more than most of the faculty’s annual income according to Wilson. 

Photo by Justin Nedrow

Another faculty member who made a public remark during the meeting, Dr. Joshua Gellers said that he was “unsure” if he could comment without knowing the exact measures the Board used to judge Szymanski’s performance. 

However, he did say that “based on the Board’s assessment of [Szymanski’s] performance, [Szymanski] met the criteria for the incentive compensation.”

There appears to be a clear split between the interests of the administration and faculty at UNF. In the past, the BOT has given a bonus to Szymanski for his performance while raising similar issues that faculty members brought today. As UNF begins to reopen and welcome students back for the Fall semester we will see how UNF addresses its faculty’s concerns. 

Spinnaker will continue to follow this story.

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