Rittle contract enriched

Cowley College president Dennis Rittle has been given a new three-year contract that boosts his total compensation to $216,000, not including employee benefits.

That contact became effective on July 1 and is a rolling, three-year agreement that automatically renews each July 1.

Rittle’s new contract provides a base salary of $180,000 and doubles his housing housing allowance to $2,000 per month. His retirement benefit jumps from $750 per month to $1,000 per month, but a $500 monthly vehicle allowance was dropped.

The annual salary, housing and retirement pay totals $216,000 a year. He also receives traditional benefits available to other college employees.

Now in his fifth year as president, Rittle has seen his base salary grow 25 percent since he started in 2015. 

After his first year, he received a $21,500 raise that took his base pay to $164,000, under a three-year contract. He also has been eligible for cost of living increases since then, but the college had not provided how much those increased were before deadline Tuesday.

Rittle will continue to be eligible for cost of living adjustments provided to other full-time administrative staff, but said in an email that he plans to donate any cost of living adjustment difference to the Student Emergency Fund and toward professional development for faculty and staff.

“The Board of Trustees look forward to the future with Dr. Rittle’s leadership and knowledge,” board chair Jill Long said in press release issued Tuesday. “The college has experienced continued growth and accomplished many great things during Dr. Rittle’s tenure, and we are excited to continue working together.”

In the release, Rittle thanked each trustees for their generosity and support.

The three-year, automatic renewal stipulation gives Rittle more financial security should he be fired without cause, because the contract states that would get his base salary, plus retirement and health benefits, for the remainder of his contract term.

That doesn’t sit well with trustee Gary Wilson, who said he would rather such a payout be limited to one year’s salary. 

“It was obvious that wasn’t going to fly,” he said. “I didn’t so mind the three year rolling, but I didn’t like the idea of having to pay his contract out for three years.”

Wilson added that he was not fully comfortable with the process because the full board did not vote on a finalized agreement.

But the board did agree to give Long, the chair, the authority to carry out the trustees’ wishes after they met in executive session to discuss a new contract.

“It usually comes back to the full board to ratify it,” Wilson said. “I know it looks a little weird, but we finalized what we felt, and that’s what was carried out.”

The contract Rittle signed was for less money than other scenarios presented to the board, Wilson added, and there was a desire to get it done by July 1.

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