Turns out that our readers are a knowledgeable bunch when it comes to things like salaries. With reference to this post on college president salaries, a reader who (wisely!) prefers to remain anonymous sent in this information.

[Apologies for the formatting, but my HTML skills are pathetic. If any of my more technically skilled readers could fix the source for this table and send it to me, I would appreciate it.]

Institution Employee 2000-1 Pay 2001-2 Pay 2001-2 Benefits 2001-2 Total Compensation
Williams College Morton Owen Schapiro
Williams College Winthrop M. Wassenar
design consultant, theater and dance center; former director, physical plant

Williams College Harry C. Payne*
former president
Williams College Helen Ouellette
VP, administration; treasurer
Williams College George R. Goethals II
professor, psychology


Several items jump out from this table.

1) Morty makes $400,000 per year (he presumably got at least a small raise for 2003-2004). Whether this is a lot of money or a little money depends on your point of view. I wonder if the large benefits package includes some measure of the housing value of that modest place on Route 2 that he has?

2) Winthrop Wassenar has done pretty well for himself. I wouldn’t have guessed that running the physical plant was that remunerative. Presumably, there is some sort of back story here. I wish that I knew more.

3) The College is still paying Hank Payne! Or, at least they were 2 years ago. Wasn’t that 2 years after he had left? Doesn’t he have, you know, another job now?

4) Note the difference between Schapiro and Payne’s ($290,000 versus $238,000) base pay. Although this might be complicated by Payne’s departure (maybe he only gets, say, 75% of his base pay as a golden parachute), it appears that the trustees have decided that Presidents are worth 25% more than they were just a couple of years ago. Or perhaps this was the amount that they needed to entice Morty away from sunny California.

5) Helen Ouellette has a nice gig.

Another reader, Ben Roth, was kind enough to send in a link to an article, from November 2000, that mentions Hank Payne’s pay windfall. The article notes:

The former president of Williams College, Harry C. Payne, topped the list with $878,222 in salary and benefits when he received a special package related to his departure from the school. His base salary was $232,550.

Hmmm. It is unclear whether Payne’s golden parachute included the hundreds of thousands that the college was still paying him in 2001-2002. Perhaps there is some double counting going on. Does anyone besides me find this all . . . troubling?

Ben also pointed out an article from the New York Times on the same survey.

Shimon Rura ’03 sent in a link to this Chronicle of Higher Education story on the same topic. The article ends with:

“It’s not going to be good for higher education if it becomes seen, at a time when tuition is going up, that college presidencies have become a new route to being a millionaire,” says Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, in San Jose, Calif.

Even so, The Chronicle’s annual surveys of the compensation of public- and private-college leaders show that presidents have not been bashful about accepting raises, nor have boards stopped handing them out.

Again, anyone familiar with how the unholy trinity of pay consultants, peer comparisons and lackluster governance led to an explosion in executive compensation over the last 25 years should worry about these trends, both for academia as a whole and at Williams in particular. Shimon notes that “But, you know, it’s just money. Williams is too good to worry about things like that, which probably contributes to your feeling that they could cut costs quite a bit.”

It’s not really the cost that I worry about. It is the culture. Morty now makes twice as much as any other professor and, rough estimate, around 5 times more than recently tenured professors. If that doesn’t worry you, how are you going to feel when it is 4 and 10 or 10 and 25? This is precisely the sort of relative growth that CEO’s of public corporations have seen.

For the record, I’ll note (and not just because I want a job from him someday!) that, if any College President is worth $400,000, then Morty definately is.


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