Top Lawyer Helped Win Many College Chiefs’ Perks

Thursday, March 29, 2012

When universities are deciding how much to pay their presidents, they call Raymond Cotton. When presidents need an advocate in salary negotiations, they call him, too.

Cotton, who works for the Boston-based law firm Mintz Levin, has carved out a niche as one of the nation’s most prominent consultants on academic salaries, helping to negotiate or assess contracts for more than 250 clients.

He is also is the common link between two recent Massachusetts controversies over large salaries and corporate-style perks for university presidents.

Cotton, who is based in Washington, D.C., helped make former Suffolk University president David Sargent one of the highest-paid college presidents in the nation under an agreement that is now the subject of an IRS audit. He also crafted a contract that gave outgoing UMass president Jack Wilson a yearlong sabbatical at full presidential pay after he left the post, a perk UMass hired Cotton to review as an outside arbiter two months ago.

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