What The Missouri State Audit Of The UM System Said About UMKC

Mar 7, 2017

UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton was paid $57,300 a year in housing allowances over the last two years, according to a Missouri State Auditor report.
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The Missouri state auditor Monday issued a highly critical report of executive compensation in the University of Missouri System, calling some $2 million paid to top leaders over the last two years "hidden bonus pay."

Much of Auditor Nicole Galloway's fire was focused on how the UM System handled the resignation of former University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.

But she also highlighted additional compensation paid to other top system executives, including UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton.

For example, the audit criticized the UM System not for making incentive payments to executives but rather because the "audit found there was not a formalized, clearly defined process or objective metrics" and that the money wasn't included in compensation reports available to the public.

According to the audit, Morton has received incentive payments of $25,204 in 2016 and $26,686 in 2015. Morton declined the incentive payment in 2015, the report said.

The executive with the most generous incentive payments over the past three years is Board of Curators General Counsel Steve Owens, at $120,694.

Morton also receives $57,300 a year in housing allowance. Only two other UM System executives received housing allowances in the last two years: System President Tim Wolfe was given $40,800 over that time and Missouri S&T Chancellor Cheryl Schrader received $7,200.

Morton's housing allowance is so generous because the old chancellor's residence on the UMKC campus was demolished in 2012 to make room for the Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, according to a statement from UMKC spokesperson Stacy Downs.

"The UM System opted as an alternative to provide a housing allowance based on the equivalent value of the property including taxes, utilities and maintenance," Downs said.

The audit also "found the University of Missouri System paid its executives excessive vehicle allowances" totaling $407,000 to 18 top executives over the past two years. Again, Galloway charged there was a lack of transparency because that money was not included in publicly available compensation reports.

Morton received $28,118 in car allowance in 2015 and 2016. That's about what his peers at the other UM System campuses were paid. 

KCUR is licensed to the University of Missouri Board of Curators and is an editorially independent community service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Sam Zeff covers education for KCUR and the Kansas News Service and is host of the political podcast Statehouse Blend Kansas. Follow him on Twitter @SamZeff.