Back in 2007, I was floored by the University of Florida’s President (Bernie Machen) accepting more than $200,000 in bonuses. I was so floored, I sent him a letter (below) and asked him to decline the bonus. After all, he already receives in base salary more than 10 times the annual income for a Florida family sending their child to the University of Florida.

As expected, I did not receive a response and there was no mention of donations, declines, or anything else from Bernie Machen.

Fast Forward to 2009

Today the Gainesville Sun reports that Bernie Machen is donating $285,000.00 to a scholarship he created for students. Yes, it’s a nice thing, but is it the best thing and/or too little too late? Why did we need a new scholarship? Couldn’t any of the already existing scholarships have benefited from this money? And again, thank you Mr. Machen for donating this money– and yes, that’s an amazing tax write off you’ll get– but what about all the other bonuses you have received? It’s nice to hold a big press conference for this, but honestly, I still think he needs to do a lot more.

November 30, 2007

J. Bernard Machen
226 Tigert Hall
P.O. Box 113150
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611

Dear President Machen,

As an alumni of the University of Florida, I respectfully ask that you decline and and all bonuses awarded. I feel that a true leader can lead by example, and in declining your bonuses, you will truly emphasize the importance of the budgetary issues facing the University.

Although I understand that declining more than $200,000.00 may seem extreme, to the average person, this would be impressive. Of course, the alternative (accepting such an extreme bonus when compensation exceeds $400,000.00) would actually present a worse impression to both alumni and community members.

You currently earn more than 10 times the salary of the average family in Florida. Again, for emphasis… you currently earn more than 10 times the salary of the average family sending their child to the University of Florida. From the typical perspective of this student’s family, how can the cutbacks and tuition increases be justified when the President of the University is given a bonus of what will take this family will a lifetime to earn?

I feel that by rejecting such a bonus, you will earn the respect of alumni, faculty, students, and residents of the Great State of Florida.

Thank you,

F I S Posner