Apr 16, 2010

Economy Hits College Presidents In the Pocketbook

According to a recent survey conducted by Yaffe & Company, of Towson, Maryland, nearly 60 percent of private college presidents received no increase in compensation last year. About 14 percent had their salaries reduced and 43 percent remained frozen.

The survey tracked salary information for presidents who were in the position last year and this. Colleges providing information were promised confidentiality so no individual salaries were released. Most of the private colleges in the survey, similar to most private institutions in general, did not come with billion-dollar endowments.

An earlier Yaffe survey indicated that two-thirds of independent colleges and universities planned to freeze employee salaries. Among the respondents, 80 percent said the freeze would be imposed across the institution; 15 percent said it would affect only the president and top executives; and 6 percent said only the president’s salary would be capped.

Yet despite general belt-tightening initiatives at many colleges, a notable few presidents received hefty salary increases. About 10 percent reported raises of 7 percent or more.

And university presidents have done quite well over the past few years relative to the economy. Locally, Johns Hopkins University president William Brody made number eight on USA TODAY's list of top ten compensation packages at big non-profits. Earning $1,198,964, Brody came in just behind the presidents of NYU, Columbia, Penn, and Yale.

According to Inside HigherEd, some of last year's larger salary increases came at colleges where a president has finished a first contract of several years, and the board wanted to extend a message of confidence. Evidently, board members are more worried about losing a good president than spending a few additional dollars, even if other budget items receive significant trimming.

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