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Meehan to earn $280,000 base pay

Meehan will step down as congressman on July 1 to start his chancellor duties. Meehan will step down as congressman on July 1 to start his chancellor duties.

Outgoing US Representative Martin T. Meehan will earn a $280,000 annual salary when he becomes chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, making him the second highest-paid chancellor among the four campuses with undergraduate programs.

In addition to the salary, the congressman will be eligible for an annual incentive bonus equal to 15 percent of his salary, which after his first year could amount to $42,000. He also will receive an annual annuity equal to 7 percent of his salary, or nearly $20,000 his first year, but will only be able to collect the money if he completes his initial three-year contract.

The deal, which was signed last week, is comparable to that of the previous chancellor of UMass Lowell, William T. Hogan, who retired last year after 25 years in the job and earned $265,217 in salary, annuities, and housing allowance.

Meehan, who earns $165,000 a year in Congress, said he decided against receiving a housing allowance -- a controversial perk for chancellors in the university system, as well as other public college presidents in the state -- because he already has a house in Lowell. However, the approximately $30,000 value of the perk was added to his base salary, he said.

"I felt for transparency matters that the housing allowance should be part of the salary," Meehan said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Public college presidents have long argued that the housing allowances were a form of salary and not specifically used for housing.

His pay package is second to UMass-Amherst chancellor John V. Lombardi, who will earn a $347,500 base salary this year and a $24,325 annuity. Amherst is the system's flagship campus with 25,000 students, while Lowell is about half that size, with 12,000 students.

Stephen P. Tocco, chairman of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees, said he thought the deal struck between Meehan and UMass president Jack M. Wilson was fair.

"It's what we need to be paying to be competitive," Tocco said.

Wilson could not be reached for comment, but the president's office has previously maintained that its chancellors make about 30 percent less than their peers in comparable states.

Trustees selected Meehan as chancellor last month, hoping his political and fund-raising skills will bring more clout and money to the campus as it aggressively pursues scholarship on nanotechnology, biomanufacturing, and several other new sciences.

Meehan will start his duties in July. He will step down as congressman on July 1 and will formally submit his letter of resignation on May 9, setting in motion a special election to replace him. Governor Deval Patrick must schedule an election to be held between 145 days and 160 days after Meehan submits his letter.

A primary will be held in September and a general election in October, Meehan said. At least 10 Democrats and Republicans are vying for the seat.

Susan Milligan of the Globe staff contributed to this report. James Vaznis can be reached at jvaznis@globe.com.

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