Salary Sleight

By Xerxes Wilson | LSU Student

The Paul Hebert Law Center has been required to foot more than $130,000 in faculty salary and benefits for LSU System Office General Counsel Ray Lamonica even though he has not taught a class since 2005.

Lamonica's situation partially illustrates how System President John Lombardi has been able to expand the bureaucracy of the LSU System Office in spite of state funding decreases.

The growing number of positions, including 19 executives making six-figure salaries, has been accommodated through administrative assessment fees to the 12 system campuses currently overseen by the System and by "other self-generated income" and "direct-cost reimbursement."

Lamonica says that following Hurricane Katrina he was "needed fulltime (in the LSU System Office to address the extraordinary legal issues, therefore I discontinued teaching at the Law Center."

He continues to be listed as a tenured faculty member on the law school's web site, but all involved acknowledge he has not taught a class since leaving for his current position six years ago.

Lamonica's faculty salary not only has remained on the books, but it increased $10,000 in 2008 – part of a general salary increase for law school personnel -- under orders from the System Office, acknowledged Hebert Chancellor Jack Weiss.

Currently, 37 percent of Lamonica's $275,000 annual LSU System salary comes from the payroll of the law school. Additionally, it pays approximately $30,000 of his $72,000 annual benefits package.

He indicated his Law Center salary is taken into account when the LSU System assesses the law school for administrative services.

Public financial records do not support that. The current law school's formal annual assessment, according to public records, is $22,000. That is some $4,000 less than the assessment based on 2004-05 revenues, the last academic year Lamonica taught at the Law Center.

LSU campuses currently are assessed .0011 percent of their revenues except for the Law Center, which is saddled with a rate of .0077 percent, when Lamonica's salary and benefits package is included, many times that of other LSU System entities.

Hit with the challenges of shrinking state appropriations, Weiss said he requested a formal review of Lamonica's faculty payment in 2009, the year after he was accorded the $10,000 raise. Weiss said his request was directed to Lombardi, but that it was rejected for reasons he could not recall.

Lamonica said in an email that his "total compensation is paid by the LSU System and I received no salary or compensation from the Law Center." Technically, he is paid from the System Office budget, but law school officials confirmed $102,000 in wages and more than $30,000 in benefits are indeed transferred from the law school's budget to the System Office to augment his pay.

Lamonica also said it is his "understanding" that the LSU System financial staff arranged for the law school to be compensated for his designated professorship supplement when teaching wasn't taking place.

Weiss said he is unaware of any such agreement and, because he was not chancellor at the time, is unable to elaborate on why Lamonica has remained tenured faculty while not teaching. Lamonica said he annually updates two law treatises and has co-authored two books without receiving a research supplement from the law school.

While state funding has decreased to the LSU System office in the past several years, two other areas have dramatically increased.

The LSU System Office partially curtailed losses with a category it calls "other self-generated revenue." This includes Lamonica's agreement with the law school and the System's claim to 10 percent of royalties resulting from intellectual properties, such as trademarks and patents generated on the system's campuses.

Salaries paid by the LSU First Healthcare Network fall into a category created in 2008-09 called "direct cost reimbursement."

As a source for system office salaries, the combined self-generated and direct reimbursement areas have doubled in the previous four years to just under $2.4 million.

In 2002, the LSU system employed 38 positions. As of 2012 the office employs nearly 60 people.

Before being hired by the law school, Lamonica was appointed as United States attorney for the middle district of Louisiana in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. He was replaced in 1994 by L.J. Hymel.