Former president Todd’s new office to cost six figures

Former President Lee Todd’s new office will cost almost as much as one year of his salary when he returns to UK as an electrical engineering professor.

Todd’s new office will cost $143,828.10, according to documents obtained by the Kernel through an open records request. According to Todd’s employment agreement, he will make the same as the highest paid full tenured professor in the College of Engineering, which is currently about $162,000.

His new office will be located in the Advanced Science and Technology Commercialization Center Building, said Jay Blanton, UK public relations and executive marketing director.

Blanton said the office was primarily chosen for location. By being located in the ASTeCC, the office allows Todd to work closer with people in areas he is interested in, like commercialization, Blanton said.

The high cost for Todd’s new office comes from having to renovate a current conference room into three smaller rooms — a new office for Todd, an assistant’s office and a smaller conference room, Blanton said.

The conference room would allow Todd to meet with people from different organizations, such as those working on science, technology, engineering and mathematics efforts, Blanton said.

“Given (Todd’s) longstanding interest and expertise in economic development, space in our commercialization center is appropriate,” UK Board of Trustees Chair Britt Brockman said in a statement released to the Kernel.

In the statement, Brockman said the Board was not involved in the details of how the space was configured, and “the space will be utilized for a long time to come.”

According to the renovation records obtained by the Kernel the costs for the office are:

-General construction contract: $86,515.00

-Furniture: $41,443.29

-Carpet: $5,625.81

-Blinds: $1,213.00

-Telephone/Computer wiring: $3,450.00 (estimate)

-Asbestos testing: $165.00

-Design/project management: $3,466.00 (estimate)

-Stores markup: $550.00 (estimate)

-UK Waste tax: $1,400.00 (estimate)

Blanton said the office will be paid for with lapsed funds for the past 2010-2011 fiscal year. The funds come from both the UK Office of Commercialization and Economic Development and the university’s central administration.

“(It’s) not as if another project went undone,” Blanton said.

Joe Peek, professor in the UK School of Management in the Gatton College of Business and Economics and member of the UK Board of Trustees, disagrees.

“But that is still real money that could have been used for other worthwhile purposes,” Peek said in an email to the Kernel.

Peek, in a phone interview, said that as Todd transitions from his role as president to faculty expenses are expected, but the projected cost totals a lot of money.

“It looks like no one was overly concerned about cost,” Peek said.

He said it appears that whoever approved the office did so with the idea that the money spent wouldn’t come out of his pocket.

“It still isn’t ‘free money,’” Peek said in an email.

From a faculty perspective, Peek said it can be a sore point when previous administrators return to the university as faculty and are treated differently. He said the office’s costs might be associated with Todd wanting to uphold a certain image as the ex-president of the university.

Peek said the cost will not be zero when bringing new faculty to the university, but it looks to him like UK “went to the high bidder, not the low bidder.”

“I don’t know what the right number is,” Peek said, “but I’m pretty sure $144,000 is not the right number.”