Trend in salary increases

by Shara Tibken

Simpson College’s 990 tax return, from the 2003 fiscal year,shows that the list of the highest paid employees at Simpsonremains consistent with last year’s with comparable raises.

The increase of salaries for employees performing sufficientlywell was 4 percent this year. Last year, the salary increase was4.5 percent across the board, according to President R. KevinLaGree.

“That’s much higher than the cost of living, and that reflectsour commitment to keep the very best people that we have,” saidLaGree.

The cost of living increase as noted by the Consumer Price Indexrose by 1.1 percent from June 2001 to June 2002.

The five highest-paid faculty members received an average raiseof 3.5 percent, while six of the highest-paid administratorsaveraged a 4.3 percent raise.

LaGree’s salary increased by 4 percent to $169,980. His entirecompensation (salary, benefits of $19,252 and expenses of $10,446)totaled $199,678.

Two administrators received raises higher than the average ofthe others.

Jim Thorius, vice president for student development, received araise of 8.8 percent, unadjusted for inflation, and DeborahTierney, vice president for enrollment, received a 21.5 percentraise.

The reasons for the pay increases of specific employees ofSimpson College are confidential, so LaGree was unable to commentwhy Tierney’s salary changed so drastically.

He did advise people not to jump to conclusions about theincrease though.

“I think that in at least one of those situations, maybe both ofthem, a person may be listed in a position and may have a salary,but they may not have been in that position all year, so the salarythat’s given there is a combination, in some situations, of whatthey earned until they were promoted and go to a higher salary,”said LaGree. “Then the next year, they’re at that higher salary forthe whole year.”

Tierney was promoted in 2001 and she was new to the list of thehighest paid officials last year.

In the 2002 fiscal year, only 32 employees, plus the fivehighest-paid faculty members, were being paid over $50,000. In the2003 fiscal year, 57 employees, plus the five highest-paid, madeover $50,000.

It is unknown why the number increased so drastically.

“My guess is that there will be even more [employees] above$50,000 next year, and that’s not bad,” said LaGree.

How salaries are determined

According to W. Steven Weeber, chairman of the board of trusteesat Simpson College, a lengthy process is used to determine theamount of raises that people employed by Simpson will receive.

“We go through quite a rigorous process,” said Weeber.

Employees are first evaluated by the college.

“Every year we do a very thorough evaluation process for everyemployee at Simpson” said LaGree. “We set some goals for the comingyear…people get a chance to do their own self-evaluations firstand share it with their supervisors…then they work out goals forthe following year.”

Performance of the employees is considered before raise amountsare determined.

“Certainly performance is a piece of salary adjustments forpeople,” said LaGree. “We first, as an institution, want to makesure that we’re, as we’re fiscally able, providing a cost of livingincrease to everybody, and then if we have more resources thanthat, every year we look at some merit and promotion moneys that goto people.”

If employees are not meeting standards, they may not receivemuch higher raises.

“Conversely, as in any organization, if somebody isunderperforming, they may only get a cost of living increase,” saidLaGree. “On rare occasions, they may not get any increase atall.”

To determine if salaries are fair and competitive, Simpsoncompares salaries with similar colleges.

“For all of our administrating positions and our facultysalaries, we compare our salaries with five other institutions,”said LaGree.

Those five colleges are Central, Coe, Cornell, Luther andWartburg.

“Our policy is that we like to have our salaries above themidpoint of the range of those,” said LaGree. “My salary iscompared the same way.”

LaGree’s salary is determined by the board of trustees.

“My salary is set by the board of trustees, and everybody else’ssalary is set by their supervisor,” said LaGree. “I do an annualevaluation with the board.”

The board of trustees does not treat the president’s raise muchdifferent than that of other employees.

“We go through the same process with the president as with theother employees at Simpson,” said Weeber.

The board of trustees has the final say as to the amount thatsalaries will be set at, but they greatly consider what the collegehas advised.

“We rely heavily on the recommendation from the college,” saidWeeber.

Simpson notifies employees of raises in a two-step process,according to LaGree.

In the spring, all employees are sent a letter notifying them ofthe minimum salary amount they will receive for the year.

In September, after the enrollment is determined, the employeesare sent a second letter.

If the enrollment is high, the employees will usually receivemore money.

President’s compensation compared to other private colleges

The Chronicle of Higher Education prints a survey each yeardetailing the salaries of the highest paid officials in 595 privatecolleges.

The information available regarding the salaries of privatecolleges is delayed by a year from the current informationavailable at Simpson because of the different dates of fiscal yearsand deadlines of the Internal Revenue Service.

According to The Chronicle survey, the highest paid president inthe nation, Shirley Ann Jackson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institutein Troy, New York, received $891,400 for salary and benefits in the2002 fiscal year, the year with the most recent informationavailable.

She was also paid $591,000 for serving on eight corporateboards.

Jackson brought in a gift of $360-million in 2001, which wasthought to have been the largest donation given to a university,according to The Chronicle. This is what may account for her highsalary.

LaGree received a compensation total (salary, benefits andexpenses) of $185,513 for the same time period.

The two colleges are in different leagues though. Rensselaeroffers doctoral degrees, while Simpson is an undergraduateuniversity.

The students who attend Rensselaer pay $27,700 on tuition alone,almost $10,000 more than what Simpson students are paying thisyear.

The nine other presidents who are the highest paid in the nationmake well over $400,000, with three of them (not including Jackson)making over $800,000.

The colleges that Simpson compares itself to, such as CornellCollege in Mt. Vernon, pay salaries much closer to that ofSimpson.