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Form 990 I

The College’s Fiscal Year 2015 Form 990 is now available (pdf). Day 1 of a 5 day discussion.

Form 990 is an IRS requirement filed by all US non-profits. It is a confusing document that has changed significantly over the years. See here for background reading. Williams only provides versions going back to 2009. Future historians will thank us for archiving older versions: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. In fact, because Williams occasionally hides things that it once made public, let’s go ahead and save the more recent filings: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Wow! We have been doing this a long time . . .

Is the past another country? From 1998:


Cumulative inflation between 1998 and 2015 has only been 45% so we would expect the total compensation for Adam Falk and Fred Puddester, Payne and Healy’s successors, to be about $397,000 and $244,000 respectively, right? The actual numbers are $768,000 and $442,000. Williams has raised administrator salaries around 90% more than the rate of inflation over the last 17 years.

It has not, however, raised faculty salaries nearly as much. From 1998:


Note that is hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison with today because the highest paid professors in 1998 may be different — in terms of things like years of service or administrative duties — from the highest paid professors in 2015. Indeed, I am not even sure if items like health care and retirement benefits are included (or excluded) in 1998 versus 2015. However, a compensation of $175,000 for, say, Stewart Crampton ’58 is not out-of-line to the 2015 compensation of $231,000 for Bill Lenhart. In fact, that 32% increase is less than the rate of inflation!

The real change that jumps out is the huge increase in highly paid administrators. In 1998, only two non-faculty (Healy and Birrell) made the top 7 in compensation. In 2015, six of the top seven highest paid employees (Wakeman, Crosby, Klass, Puddester, Chilton, Sousa) were non-faculty.

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#1 Comment By anonymous On February 27, 2017 @ 9:11 am

Important questions for justice and equity minded folks:
What’s the ratio between the highest and lowest paid full-time employee?
What goes on the expense accounts?
What kind of luxury trips are administrators taking on Williams’ dime?

Questions administrators would prefer:
How does X compare to rival institutions?

#2 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On February 27, 2017 @ 10:10 am

The growth in high-level administrative salaries is interesting to see laid out like this, but not especially surprising. The salaries of University/College presidents have sky-rocketed in the past 20 years as they have become responsible for raising hundreds of millions (billions?) of dollars. The question is whether paying top dollar is required to get top-level results.

Kudos to EphBlog for keeping these documents available over the years.

#3 Comment By international student ’17 On February 27, 2017 @ 3:10 pm

Is there a way to deduce the college’s budget, or at least trends in the way the college finances its activities, based on both this and the college’s financial statements? http://controller.williams.edu/college-financial-statements/ It is hard to get a sense of the administration’s priorities, because it loves its secrecy.

Would be very interesting to know why Williams is still not need blind for international students. I know the college scrapped the policy because of the financial crisis and the resulting blows to the endowment, but wow, Williams is much richer than it was in 2008! It’d be interesting to look at these trends since 2000.

#4 Comment By John C. Drew, Ph.D. On February 27, 2017 @ 3:29 pm

I’ve raised a lot of money over the years as a grant writer and fundraiser. I think if more people understood how it was done, and especially how easy it is to raise money for educational institutions, then they would not be so impressed with fundraising expertise or skills. If you have the ability to ask, then you can easily become a terrific fundraiser. Simple as that…

#5 Comment By anonymous On February 27, 2017 @ 4:08 pm

JCD: interesting observation—and raising money for Williams should be easier than most places (so long as the priorities are kept in line with the expectations of alumni). That’s a good argument that X’s salary should be less than rival institutions’ (or fundraising goals should be higher).

#6 Comment By JAS On February 27, 2017 @ 8:49 pm

Seems to follow the same trends as executive compensation in the rest of the US economy. CEO pay goes up while worker pay stays mostly stagnant.

#7 Comment By John C. Drew, Ph.D. On February 28, 2017 @ 12:36 am

Williams College is a typical left-wing organization. Equality for thee, but not for me. The required reading on campus should be George Orwell’s Animal Farm.