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University of Montana President Royce Engstrom.

A compensation review for University of Montana President Royce Engstrom likely will take place in 2016.

This week, the Montana Board of Regents will consider renewing the $500,000 in deferred compensation given Montana State University President Waded Cruzado for strong performance five years after her hire.

Engstrom was hired just 10 or 11 months later, according to the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education.

As such, Kevin McRae, vice president for communications in the commissioner's office, said he anticipates a similar conversation about compensation for Engstrom will take place around the same five-year mark.

"Upon hire, presidents were offered a benefit of $50,000 per year for 10 years (to be paid from age 65 to 75) if the president serves five years. Both presidents are vested in those plans now," McRae said in an email.

In an interview, McRae said enrollment at MSU was not a factor in Commissioner Clayton Christian's decision to recommend the Board of Regents renew the plan for Cruzado.

Enrollment has tracked up at MSU, but declined at UM, and Tuesday, the Missoula president announced deep cuts on campus.

However, McRae said other factors indicate success, such as fundraising and increases in graduation rates. UM is in "the interesting situation" of being able to count a record number of graduates in spring 2015, while facing significant financial challenges due to declining enrollment, he said.

The board offered the presidents deferred compensation on top of their regular pay as a way to make the salaries more competitive nationally. Montana has been at the very bottom of the list when it comes to the salaries of university presidents, he said.

However, the compensation is deferred so the payers have more time to fund it. He said the plans were funded "through a combination of private foundation funds and university funds."

The money will be paid for the presidents in installments over 10 years starting when they are 65 years old. According to McRae, failing to renew the deferred compensation package is the equivalent of a pay cut.

"We're probably 10 or 11 months away from the subject with (Engstrom)," McRae said.

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Reporter for the Missoulian