The Massachusetts Board of Retirement agreed yesterday to hike pensions of about eight of the 17 active and retired college presidents who asked for the increases to mirror a boost that former University of Massachusetts president William Bulger won in court.
In November, the Supreme Judicial Court boosted Bulger's annual pension by $17,000, to $196,000, after factoring in his housing allowance. State pensions are calculated based on a percentage of the average of a worker's top three earning years before retirement.
The 17 other college presidents had asked that their housing allowance be counted as salary in calculating their pension.
"We made the decision based on the Bulger decision, which said housing allowance can and should be factored into a pension," said state Treasurer Timothy Cahill, who chairs the board.
The pension board agreed to set a retroactive date of July 2002 to begin factoring in the housing allowance. That's when the board was first notified about the issue.
About 8 of the 17 presidents retired after July 2002 and will be eligible for the higher pensions.
Among the former or active college presidents who requested an increase is former Holyoke Community College president David Bartley, who asked for a $12,000 increase of his $138,000 annual pension. Bartley retired in 2004.