Administrator pay raises outpace professors’ salaries


Dan Bauman
The Journal at Webster University

🔗 New IRS filings reveal administrative compensation
🔗 CHARTS: 2010 administrative pay data for Webster University and similar colleges

UPDATE: In a statement to The Journal on Aug. 23, Chief Communications Officer Barbara O’Malley said Dean of Walker School of Business and Technology Benjamin Akande’s 7.45 percent increase in base pay was the result of Akande being named head of the Office of Corporate Partnerships in 2010.


As Webster University implements a merit-based raise system for faculty members for the 2013-14 academic year, new data reveals base pay increases for two Webster administrators outpaced the average associate and full-time professors’ salaries in 2011.

In 2011, Dean of Walker School of Business and Technology Benjamin Akande and Chief Policy Analyst Lawrence Haffner received base pay increases of 7.45 percent and 4.79 percent, respectively.

Six administrators also received bonuses in 2011. They were:
• President Elizabeth Stroble ($75,000)
• Provost and Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Julian Schuster ($25,000)
• Former Chancellor Neil George ($20,000)
• Former Vice President and Executive Assistant to the President Karen Luebbert ($20,000)
• Former Vice President of Development and Alumni Programs Faith Maddy ($15,000)
• Former Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs and current Assistant Provost for Student Affairs and Athletics Paul Carney ($5,000)


Sources: Webster University 990 Form filings (2010 and 2011), Webster Today, The Journal

Note: Greg Gunderson was hired as chief financial officer and vice president in March 2011. His compensation was not listed in the 2010 filing, and thus it is not possible to compare his pay.

Note: Julian Schuster was hired as provost and chief operating officer in 2010. His full-year compensation was not listed in the 2010 filing, and thus it is not possible to compare his pay.

Note: Laura Rein was hired as university secretary in August 2011. Her compensation was not listed in the 2010 filing, and thus it is not possible to compare his pay.

*Karen Luebbert retired in May 2011. Her salary figures should not be considered full-year pay.

That same year, associate and full-time professors received average pay increases of 2.36 percent and 2.90 percent, respectively, according to numbers from the Chronicle of Higher Education and the American Association of University Professors.

Associate and full-time professors’ average pay failed to keep up with price increases in 2011. The Consumer Price Index, which tracks changes in price levels for consumer goods and services, rose 3.2 percent from 2010, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

One faculty group did receive a hefty pay increase in 2011. Assistant professors at Webster University experienced the greatest average increase in pay among professors, amounting to a 12.67 percent increase in average pay ($59,600 in 2011; $52,900 in 2010).

The Journal requested to speak with Provost Julian Schuster and Chief Financial Officer Greg Gunderson. As well as being administrators, both are Board of Trustees members. The Board of Trustees is the university’s governing body and determines administrative pay. The Journal was instead directed to speak with Patrick Giblin, Webster’s spokesperson.

Giblin said he was not at liberty to discuss the rationale for individual compensation changes. He said administrators may receive a bonus in the form of at-risk compensation. Giblin said when the university conducted an employee compensation study; it showed “some employees were at risk of literally being offered higher paying jobs at other locations.” The at-risk compensation is used to entice administrators to stay with the university. Giblin said the university would try to match administrative pay to average compensation figures at similar institutions.

“This is talent that we are trying to keep here,” Giblin said.

According to Webster’s tax filing, Elizabeth Stroble, Julian Schuster, Neil George, Karen Luebbert, Faith Maddy and Paul Carney were awarded at-risk compensation during 2011.

While Dean Benjamin Akande did not receive bonus pay in either 2010 or 2011, he did receive the largest increase in base pay. One possible reason may be Akande’s decision to pursue presidential positions at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy and University of Evansville in Evansville, Ind., in 2010. Akande ultimately withdrew his name from the presidential searches.

The tax filing also stated that only President Elizabeth Stroble’s contract contained language regarding at-risk compensation. Giblin said he did not know about the nature of the language and could not comment on it.

Giblin also said some administrative bonuses are tied to year-end goals. He said he would not be able to discuss those year-end goals, but that they were agreed upon between the employee and the Board of Trustees.

The one percent merit-based raise system for faculty will take effect during the 2013-14 academic year. Previously, an evenly distributed, non-merit based system had been used. The change was approved on April 24, 2013.

The change to merit-based raises was prompted by pressure from Webster’s Board of Trustees, said Chair of the Salary and Fringe Benefit Committee Jeff Carter in April.

“We have been told that the board is only going to support merit (based salary increases) and is no longer supporting across the board (salary increases),” Carter said.

Measuring up

Giblin said the employee compensation study, called the Mercer Compensation Study, identified administrative pay that was below the industry average. According to tax filings, the Board of Trustees engaged Mercer Consulting in 2010 to “recommend appropriate benchmarking of executive compensation and benefits to be competitive and equitable with the market.” The study also examined faculty pay in the higher education industry.

“The salaries of the president and other executives were proposed at the 50 percent of the Mercer Benchmark survey,” reads the filing note. “The Board of Trustees formed a committee made up of Board members to review the salary levels. The 2011-2012 salaries of the president and other executives were then approved by the board committee.”

Giblin also pointed to the most recent analysis by the Chronicle of Higher Education on faculty pay. The Chronicle found that in 2013, Webster’s full and assistant professors were paid above the median average salary compared to similar colleges (In the 63rd and 68th percentile, respectively). Associate professors were found to be in the 81st percentile.

“It’s something we are actually pretty pleased with, and we are working, of course, to improve that,” Giblin said. “We realize that it still may not be up to par in some people’s eyes, but the fact is even the Chronicle of Higher Education pointed out that our professors are still paid above the industry average.”

Full and assistant professors each experienced a seven percent increase in average salaries in 2012. Associate professors experienced an 11.38 percent increase. However, in 2013, faculty average pay projections declined significantly. Full and associate professors projected 1.64 and 1.68 percent increases, respectively. Assistant professors projected a 0.47 percent increase in averaged salary.

In a statement to The Journal, Faculty Senate President Gwyneth Williams said while some faculty had received pay increases based on data from the Mercer Compensation Study, others had not. She said the pay increases for some faculty had driven the increase in average salaries for faculty.

“However, numerous faculty members did not receive significant raises — or any raises — as a result of the Mercer adjustments, and they have less ‘real income’ now than a few years ago. The increase of one percent for the 2013-14 academic year was especially disheartening, and has been hard on morale,” Williams said.

In her statement, Williams said her comments were her own views and she did not claim to speak for the faculty or Faculty Senate on this issue. To read her full statement, click here.


Sources: AAUP and the Chronicle of Higher Education, The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

*An estimate for 2013 is based on the change in the CPI from first quarter 2012 to first quarter 2013.

Williams said President Stroble told faculty in April that salary increases had been inadequate. She said the faculty reached a joint agreement with the administration to increase faculty compensation in 2014 if enrollment projections were met this fall.

“I hope that with increased enrollments and prudent budgeting, there will be room for significant faculty salary increases in the next year,” Williams said.

According to the Chronicle, 74 full professors, 65 associate professors and 51 assistant professors participated in the 2013 survey. The study notes “salary figures include all full-time staff whose primary role is instruction, regardless of whether they have formal ‘faculty status.’ That includes tenured, tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty.” The study did not include adjunct faculty.

‘Unfair comparison’

Giblin said comparing administrative pay to faculty pay was flawed for a number of reasons. He said it was unfair to compare pay increases for administrators to those of faculty members.

“They are both valued people, but they do different jobs,” Giblin said. “I don’t think it’s fair to take a person who does one task and compare them to a person who does a completely different task and then say ‘Why are they paid differently.’ Well, they are paid differently because they have different jobs.”

Giblin said the comparison of pay increases between top-paid individuals to that of faculty groups was “incredibly misleading.” He said faculty groups salaries varied over a broad number of disciplines and areas of study, each with their own level of demand and compensation structure.

The IRS requires non-profit institutions like Webster to report the compensation of:
• Current officers, directors, and trustees (no minimum compensation threshold).
• Current key employees (with more than $150,000 of reportable compensation).
• Current five highest compensated employees other than officers, directors, trustees, or listed key employees (with more than $100,000 of reportable compensation).
• Former officers, key employees, and highest compensated employees (with more than $100,000 of reportable compensation, with special rules for former highest compensated employees).

Giblin also said the most recent compensation numbers were flawed because the data was two years old. Whereas Webster must report revenues and expenditure data by fiscal year (i.e. 2011-12) in its tax filing, compensation figures are recorded by calendar year (i.e. 2011).

The Journal asked Giblin if the university would be willing to disclose 2012 pay figures for its top-paid administrators. Giblin said the university was still working on those numbers and that they would be made public when the next tax filing was submitted to the IRS in 2014.

“At this point (the university is) still going through everything and trying to make sure that it’s accurate. So, we are not ready to share those numbers yet,” Giblin said.