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Faculty discuss executive compensation

By Hannah Schuster and Elianna Spitzer

Section: News

March 4, 2016

Perry Traquina ’78, the chair of the board of trustees, disclosed compensation rates for the university president and other senior executives at the Faculty Meeting on Feb. 26.

Interim President Lisa Lynch’s compensation has been notably lower than compensation for former President Fred Lawrence during his final two years at Brandeis. A table comparing presidential compensation between 2013 and 2015 listed Lynch’s compensation at $587,621. However, Lynch took over as interim President on July 1, 2015 and this figure is calculated as if she were compensated for a full year. In comparison, Lawrence’s compensation was $992,726 in 2013 and $1,004,593 in 2014.

In addition to year-to-year comparisons, Traquina compared executives’ compensation to Brandeis’ Peer Group, a collection of 28 schools including Tufts, Tulane, Vassar and Brown, as well as schools in the American Association of Universities (AAU) and AAU private schools.

Lynch’s compensation ranks in the seventh percentile compared to the Peer Group, whereas Lawrence’s compensation was in the 59th percentile in 2013 and the 46th in 2014.

Professor Sue Lanser (ENG/WMGS) said she is “shocked” at the discrepancy between their salaries. However, this figure was “a number [Lynch] wanted” and the board “agreed to pay her,” according to Traquina.

The figure listed as Lynch’s compensation also underestimates what Brandeis paid to employ someone in the position of university president in 2015, said Traquina. Last year, Brandeis paid Lawrence $492,000 for the first half of the year and Lynch $281,000 for the second half, totaling $773,000 in presidential compensation. Lawrence continues to be paid his salary while on sabbatical this year, said Traquina in response to a faculty member’s question.

Traquina also disclosed compensation for Brandeis’ senior executive team: 15 positions including the provost, deans and Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel. For fiscal year 2014-15, Brandeis paid its executives $4,978,000. This is in around the 45th percentile compared to the “market composite” for compensation, the 37th percentile compared to AAU schools and the 13th compared to AAU privates.

For FY 2013-14, Brandeis paid its executive team $4,947,000, which is in the 50th percentile compared to market composite, 49th compared to the AAU and 15th compared to AAU privates.

Total executive compensation—including the job of president—has been about 1.5 percent over the past few years, give or take less than 0.1 percent.

Prof. Sabine von Mering (GRAL/WMGS) does not think the use of “percentiles” provides the most important comparisons, preferring to see how executives’ compensations compares to faculty and staff compensations “from the bottom up.”

The average total compensation for a full-time Brandeis faculty member is $168,000, according to a study from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). This is compared to $176,300 at Vassar, $193,400 at Tufts, $206,500 at Brown and $191,600 at fellow Waltham university, Bentley.

The Board of Trustees is having conversations about compensation for faculty, addressing the concern that faculty may leave for better-paying jobs at other schools, said Provost Irv Epstein at the Faculty Meeting. Other faculty members also expressed concern about employees not being paid a living wage of at least $15.05 an hour. Although the board voted to raise the minimum wage, this does not apply to outsourced workers such as Sodexo or mailroom employees.

Traquina has been giving this report for the past three years. “I’m unaware of any other private college or university that discloses this data so ahead of what is legally required,” he said. Brandeis began disclosing this information as it does after an uproar when The Boston Globe leaked the compensation rate for president emeritus Jehuda Reinharz, according to a Brandeis Hoot article from January 2014.

Also at the meeting, Lanser briefly examined the status of emeritus faculty, indicating that low salaries for longtime, full tenure professors may affect retirement rates. According to a report from the fall of 2014, 48 percent of all tenured faculty are over 60 years old and 32 percent of tenured faculty are over 65. The report outlined recommendations to better facilitate faculty retirement. Recommendations include all-campus parking passes and medical/dental benefits.

The university is also in the midst of search processes for positions such as Vice President for Diversity and Chief Operating Officer, said Epstein in his Provost’s Report. Several administrators also participated in emergency preparedness training, said Epstein, helping them to develop action plans in situations such as a tornado.

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