Analyzing College Presidents' Pay
With the recent economic recession, the exorbitant rates of college presidents' compensation packages can be unsettling, particularly when paired with shrinking financial aid capabilities at institutions across the country.
An article published at the beginning of the month by the The Chronicle of Higher Education entitled "Paychecks top more than $1 million for 23 private-college institutions" examines this potentially disturbing phenomenon and provides an analysis of the annual survey of the compensation packages of private college presidents.
According to the article, Shirly Ann Jackson, the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, received a pay package of $1,598,247 for the 2007-2008 fiscal year, making her the highest-paid private college president. Presidents of schools that belong to the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), of which Colby is a member, received between $379,865 and $670,844 in total compensation for 2007-2008, with the president of Hamilton College at the low end of the spectrum and that of Tufts University at the top. William D. Adams, president of the College, received $406,588 in total compensation for the same year, making him the third lowest-paid president of the NESCAC schools.
While his salary does not rank as highly as those of the 110 presidents included in the study that received more than $500,000 in total compensation for that school year, it is not far off. It is important to remember, however, that the most current information available is from the 2007-2008 fiscal year, when the country had yet to fully acknowledge the impending economic recession. Since then, according to the article, salary rate increases have most likely leveled off, as many presidents have reportedly accepted pay cuts or even volunteered to take them. A recent survey of private colleges by Yaffe & Company, a consulting firm specializing in executive compensation, predicts that more college leaders will experience decreases in salary in the coming year.
"Things have definitely changed since the recession," Brian H. Vogel says. Vogel is a senior principal at Quatt Associates, a Washington-based company that advises nonprofit groups and other employers on compensation. Vogel advises institutions freezing or reducing the wages of faculty and staff members to start at the top, with the executive officers. "People at the higher end should be sacrificing the most," he says.
Compensation reduction efforts face a major obstacle, however, as competition among colleges and universities to hire and retain qualified individuals increases as more and more of the baby-boomer generation retires. "There is a dwindling supply of people who can do these complex jobs well," says Raymond D. Cotton, a lawyer in Washington who specializes in presidential contracts. This could force colleges to increase their presidents' salaries to stop them from taking jobs at other higher-paying institutions, which would in turn put a strain on the money available for the faculties' salaries as well as any and all other projects and programs that require funding.
With regard to the College's own financial situation, it has not yet been made public how Adams' salary and benefits may be affected in the coming years.