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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Former VP Peter French paid 3.2 mil upon leaving

Published: August 31, 2012
Section: Featured, News

Former Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Peter French received more than $3.2 million in reportable compensation in 2010, in large part because illness forced him to retire earlier than expected, a university spokesman said.

His total reportable compensation is listed at $3,225,538 on the university’s 990 form, part of its federal tax filings as a non-profit.

French received $2.99 million in “earned retirement related compensation” and “a lump sum disability payment triggered by forced retirement due to illness,” Associate Vice President for Communications Bill Burger said in a phone interview this week. French also received $226,000 in consulting fees after his retirement in 2009.

“We needed him to help in a period of presidential transition,” Burger said. “He was able to provide consulting help to Brandeis and we were very thankful for that.”

French, who retired at the age of 66 after working at the university for 14 years, earned $734,623 in salary, benefits and compensation in 2009.

“His illness cut his working life short,” Burger said, explaining that when consulting, French only worked part-time, as opposed to the rigorous full-time schedule, as the university’s second-ranked administrator under former President Jehuda Reinharz.

Through his assistant at the Tauber Institute, Reinharz declined to comment for this story. He is currently traveling abroad in Israel.

Burger declined to specify the nature of French’s illness, citing privacy, but called it an “incurable and ultimately life-threatening disease,” adding that his early retirement was the result of “unusual and unfortunate events that no one foresaw.”

French did not respond to a phone message left Wednesday evening at his home in Rhode Island. Burger wrote in an email that he was at a hospital receiving treatment and therefore unavailable for comment.

French’s 2010 compensation included deferred compensation, meaning that he was paid the large sum at once, but will not receive additional compensation in the future.

Although the 990 form reports information based on the fiscal year, the compensation table reports numbers from the previous calendar year.

In 2009, Reinharz received $1,536,401 in salary, benefits and other compensation while French received $734,623, according to the 990 Form. French’s base salary that year was $389,005.

President Fred Lawrence hired Steven Manos this summer, a former executive at Tufts University, to serve as the university’s chief operating officer. Burger explained, however, that his role is not meant directly to replace French’s position.