Harper College board awards Ender $45,000 parting bonus
Harper College board members on Wednesday awarded outgoing President Ken Ender a $45,000 performance bonus as they heaped praise upon him for his leadership of the Palatine-based community college over the past decade.
"I'm grateful you've been the heart and soul of our community college," said board Vice Chairman Bill Kelley, adding he was "awestruck" after reading Ender's final report to the board and listening to a presentation at Wednesday's meeting about how student academic achievement has improved during Ender's tenure.
The board voted 6-1 to award Ender the $45,000 bonus, which will be added to his current base salary of $325,954.
Trustee Herb Johnson voted "no," along with Student Trustee David Santafe-Zambrano, who cast an advisory "no" vote. Neither explained his vote at the meeting.
Board Chairwoman Pat Stack said the bonus is the end result of Ender's annual evaluation process that started with Ender's self-evaluation in April and written reviews by board members.
But in awarding the bonus, trustees reviewed performance goals set three years ago and considered his cumulative achievement over that time, Stack said.
"They weren't things he could finish in one year," Stack said.
"As we reviewed the performance data, not only has he been successful in each of the areas, but he exceeded expectations."
Accomplishments, Stack said, include:
• Student persistence rates have risen. The percentage of students who returned to school in the spring after the fall semester was 79% in 2009 but is 87% today.
• A decade ago, Harper had 232 different programs of study, but Ender helped package those into 10 areas of interest.
• The number of undecided students has decreased.
• Harper completed major renovations to its library, and health and recreation center.
• Ender is leaving the Promise Scholarship endowment with $18.6 million, having set a goal of $10 million when he launched the program in 2015. The initiative rewards students with two years of Harper tuition for keeping good attendance, maintaining a minimum grade-point average, performing community service and graduating on time.
Ender has received smaller bonuses each year over the course of his current five-year contract, which formally expires Sunday. He got $15,000 in 2015, $10,000 in 2016, $25,000 in 2017 and $25,000 in 2018.
He donated those previous bonuses to the Promise program, as part of an estimated $185,000 he's given to Promise and the college's Educational Foundation, said Harper spokeswoman Kim Pohl.
Ender doesn't currently have plans to make an additional donation with the most recent $45,000 bonus, Pohl said.
At the board meeting Wednesday, Ender thanked the board for hiring him in 2009 and taking measured risks during his tenure on various initiatives.
He also thanked the college staff members for their work.
"It is amazing what we've been able to accomplish together," he said.
"That's the hallmark of what we've done. Together."
The 69-year-old Inverness resident will get to retain the title president emeritus as he works as a professor of practice in the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research at North Carolina State University.
Avis Proctor will take over as Harper College president on Monday.