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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Despite continued service, Reinharz pay excessive

Published: November 22, 2013
Section: Editorials

Recently, the Boston Globe published a front page article bringing national attention to a subject we at the Hoot have been commenting on for years: the outrageous compensation given to retiring leaders of Brandeis. In the most recent example Brandeis’ President Emeritus Jehuda Reinharz receives an unusually high compensation from the University. In exchange for indeterminant and largely clandestine services which Reinharz says he renders on behalf of Brandeis, the school pays him over $600,000 dollars annually. After current president Fred Lawrence, he is the highest paid member of the Brandeis Community. Not bad for a day job. This is in addition to $800,000 dollars which he receives as President of the Mandel Foundation, an organization which has donated tens of millions of dollars to Brandeis in the past decade.

Professor Reinharz’ compensation has been likened to the lucrative “Golden Parachutes” which corporate titans often negotiate with large corporations after being ousted from command. We are hesitant to endorse that characterization; while students often felt alienated by his policy, Reinharz was praised for his ability to funnel large contributions from wealthy individuals and charitable endowments. Though Reinharz proved to be a savvy fundraiser, he was an inadequate financial steward, as demonstrated by his controversial failed attempt to sell Rose Art Museum assets to compensate for University deficits, a move which shortly preceded his abrupt departure.

When Reinharz negotiated his post presidential compensation package with Trustees, his council cited the compensation which several other “peer institutions” paid their departing presidents. These included Harvard’s Lawrence Summers. In his 6-year term, endowment contributions rose by $400 million. Per year. Reinharz also cited John Silber’s record breaking compensation package. Despite Boston University’s meteoric rise in his 30 year tenure, Silbers compensation caused a national media uproar and raised the eyebrows of potential donors. Brandeis has had healthy endowment gains and it has held steady in college rankings for over a decade. But we doubt that Mr. Reinharz can compare himself to such esteemed figures in good faith.

Reinharz says that he provides President Lawrence important continuity advice and introduces him to potential donors. This begs the question, why pay Lawrence $700,000 a year when he needs a set of $600,000 training wheels? Would Reinharz act as gatekeeper to the donors he has so much sway over, were it not for the generous compensation he receives?

Of course, since the uproar caused by the Globe’s front page article, Reinharz’s articulation of his role as President Emeritus has evolved rapidly. “I’ve never worked at Brandeis by the hour. [Lawrence] asks for advice. I give it. And I don’t look at my watch,” he told the Globe. In an interview with The Hoot, he backpedaled. “I spend 50 percent of my time on Brandeis activities as President Emeritus”, he said.

Here is the hard truth. In exchange for millions of dollars in post presidential compensation, Reinharz likely directs tens of millions of dollars in contributions back to Brandeis which he might otherwise shepard less diligently. Unseemly? Yes. Prudent? You bet. As President of the Mandel Foundation, he has already been involved in directing over five million dollars back to Brandeis this November alone.

In the future, Brandeis should be transparent about the compensation of its administrators. This is not the sort of thing which we should discover by sifting through archaic tax documents. This is not the sort of thing that should be negotiated behind closed doors then explained away in newspapers years later. Faculty are unhappy. Students, the future donors to this university, are taking note.