PAYROLL PROJECT: Top Butler County salaries can be found at Miami U.

A Journal-News analysis of 2015 public employee salaries found the top 42 people with the highest salaries all work for Miami — from RedHawks head football coach Chuck Martin ($466,601), then-President David Hodge ($433,890) and head ice hockey coach Enrico Blasi ($376,687) all the way down to No. 42 Maria Cronley, executive vice president for academic affairs ($228,594).

ONLINE DATABASE: Searchable database of payroll records

Miami University is Butler County’s largest employer, with nearly 3,300 full-time employees at its main Oxford campus, and Hamilton and Middletown campuses. Total university employment is more than 4,000 workers, including part-time employees, according to Miami.

Ranking 43rd in pay was then-Fairfield City Manager Art Pizzano, who retired in April 30, 2015. His W-2 tax form shows pay of $227,855, which included $79,810 in pay before his retirement, plus a retirement payout of $148,045.

Pizzano is followed by two more Miami University employees; Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith ($221,069); 24 more Miami employees; Talawanda Local Schools Superintendent Kelly Spivey ($200,524); six more Miami employees; Hamilton Public Safety Director J. Scott Scrimizzi ($192,840 - $122,000 is salary and the rest is retirement payout); 27 more Miami employees; Lakota Superintendent Karen Mantia ($165,000); 22 more Miami employees; and current Fairfield City Manager Mark Wendling ($153,011).

In all, 184 of the 199 highest-paid public employees in 2015 in Butler County worked for Miami University.

“We don’t really have state guidelines” for how much state university employees should be paid, said Jeff Robinson, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Higher Education (formerly known as the Ohio Board of Regents). “It’s all determined by and approved by the individual universities’ boards of trustees.”

“We don’t have any say over the campuses in terms of what their boards of trustees vote on,” Robinson added. “Those kinds of things are up to them.”

Claire Wagner, Miami’s director of university news and communications, said “some faculty members are in areas where out in the outside, like in IT (information technology), would pay them far more than to be a professor, and so we have to have salaries that at least would attract people to come to academia.”

Wagner also noted that in 2015, 105 faculty members had funding from grants included as part of their income listed on their W-2 forms, which are the amounts listed for employees in this media outlet’s lists of employees’ pay. Therefore, not all their pay came from university coffers.

Despite having higher pay than non-university public employees in Butler County, Miami has been praised by experts as being a bargain when compared against other universities nationwide.

For example, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine listed Miami as one the “100 Best Values in Public Colleges” for 2016. It ranked 50th nationally. Miami has always been on the list since it first was published in 1998.

Wagner notes Miami ranked No. 1 among national universities by U.S. News & World Report for “efficiently spend(ing) their limited resources in order to produce the highest possible educational quality.”

And Miami, which has been called a “Public Ivy” because of its high academic attainments, comparable to private Ivy League schools, has a 65.5-percent graduation rate, ranking it 20th nationwide among public colleges and universities, and No. 1 among public univesities in Ohio, Wagner said.

Former Miami President David Hodge’s Oct. 15, 2015, letter to Ohio Chancellor John Carey, outlining the school’s state-mandated plan for the university to reduce costs of earning an undergraduate degree can be found at https://www.ohiohighered.org/affordability-efficiency/five-percent-reduction-plans. Part of the university’s plan is to help more students graduate in 3 or 3.5 years.

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