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You would think the news that the president of an HBCU banking a million dollar salary in one year would be a good look for the school, right? Problem is, while Clark Atlanta’s Walter Broadnax was getting loot, the school was struggling.

Broadnax says the school’s financial problems have nothing to do with him though.

The Chronicle on Higher Education reported that Walter Broadnax received $1.1 million for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, his last at Clark Atlanta. That put him among the 30 top-paid presidents of private colleges in the nation, the Chronicle said.

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.”

Faculty had overwhelmingly voted for a resolution of “no confidence” in Broadnax in 2007.

The embattled Broadnax announced his retirement from the college in February 2008 and he left that July after six years at the helm. When Broadnax arrived in 2002, he also inherited a university beset by financial struggles and was credited with stabilizing the college’s enrollment and its finances.

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.

Brock declined to provide the rationale for the payout but said there was an error on the college’s tax returns because the university had lumped together Broadnax’s base pay — which she said was approximately $305,000 — with a contractual bonus and payments related to retirement.

She said, however, that the reported figure did reflect his total compensation.

Should Broadnax’s contract have been renegotiated in light of the fact that nobody was really feeling the way he was running the school?

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