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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Amid budget crisis, univ spent big on administrators

Published: October 1, 2010
Section: Front Page

On June 23, 2009 the university announced it would suspend contributions to the retirement funds of its 5,181 employees for the entirety of fiscal year 2010. The move, which saved the university $7.4 million, was deemed necessary to help close the then-calculated $8.9 million budget gap.

But while faculty and staff were planning to make due with less, some of Brandeis’ top administrators were living off of pay raises greater than 10 percent between fiscal years 2009 and 2008, according to the university’s tax exemption forms from those years.

For example, in fiscal year 2008, university President Jehuda Reinharz received $405,209 in compensation. In fiscal year 2009, he received $523,546 in reportable compensation.

Then Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Peter B. French received $341,105 in fiscal year 2008 and $543,613 in fiscal year 2009.

Andrew Gully, Brandeis’ senior vice president for communication, wrote in an e-mail to The Hoot that the increase in Reinharz’ salary was a result of his contract being renewed by the board of trustees in May 2008, one month before the beginning of fiscal year 2009.

As for French’s raise, Gully wrote, “Senior staff compensation reported on the form … is approved by the Personnel, Compensation and Ethics Committee annually as recommended by the president.”

While both French and Reinharz later announced that they would be undertaking a 10 percent pay cut to help with the fiscal year 2010 budget, the cut would still leave each of their salaries far higher than those they received in fiscal year 2008.

Gully wrote that there were no “annual [salary] increases in fiscal year 2010” because all university salaries were frozen.

Reinharz’s salary is on par with salaries of presidents at universities that are similar in size and caliber to Brandeis. Larry Bacow, president of Tufts University, for example, earned $622,090 in fiscal year 2009, according to his university’s tax exemption forms for that year.

Gully would not specify how much future university president Frederick Lawrence will be compensated, writing “his compensation package is appropriate for Brandeis and in the context of a first-year university president in greater Boston.”

Chairman of the board of trustees Malcom Sherman said that compensation to Brandeis administrators is reviewed by “outside compensation consultants” and examined by the Board of trustees “to ensure that we are very much in line with peer institutions.”

“For the most part, we are around the 50th percentile–sometimes a little over, sometimes a little under–but basically in that range. Brandeis is a top-tier university and we want to attract and retain highly talented individuals for these very demanding positions,” Sherman said.

Aside from Reinharz and French, the university spent more than $200,000 on salaries for nine additional employees in fiscal year 2009, three of whom were paid more than $300,000.

In fiscal year 2009, the university was suffering from a $10 million budget gap.

High salaries were not the only compensation afforded to top administrators. In fiscal year 2009, Reinharz received $196,333 in “deferred compensation” and $110,764 in nontaxable benefits, according to the tax exemption forms. Every senior administrator received at least $15,000 in deferred compensation in that fiscal year.

As president of Brandeis, Reinharz is required to live in the university-owned presidential residence in Newton. According to the tax exemption forms, the university also pays for a housekeeper to “maintain” the presidential residence, along with “routine maintenance, repairs, property taxes, insurance and utilities,” Gully wrote. Gully did not know how much the university spends annually on the presidential residence.

The university also “reimburses the president and certain senior managements for health/social club dues up to $1,000,” the form reads; however Gully wrote “President Reinharz does not receive payment for any social club memberships. He gets the $1,000 health benefit available to all senior officers.”

The university also reimburses officers and trustees for “normal business expenses incurred in connection with university businesses” if the officers and trustees present a receipt.