President’s paycheck is below average

Presidents paycheck is below average

by Christy Smith

Simpson President R. Kevin LaGree earned $198,823 in total salary, benefits, expenses and allowances during the 2001 fiscal year, the college’s tax return for the year shows.

Meanwhile, the tax return shows that six other Simpson employees, including five administrators and one faculty member, received more than $100,000 in salary, benefits, expenses and allowances during fiscal 2001.

LaGree’s compensation included $161,385 in salary, $15,624 in benefits and $21,814 in expenses and other allowances, which can include sending dependents to school and the use of a vehicle, according to the college’s tax return.

Federal law requires that the college’s tax return be open to the public. The information it discloses about the college’s finances, including pay for top administrators and campus faculty members, is to give donors and others insights into the college’s financial operations.

LaGree’s total compensation in fiscal 2000, his first as president, was $182,337 which included $157,663 in salary.

Private college presidential salary increases are bothering some. According to a November story in The Chronicle of Higher Education, some critics say the job of a college president is a public service. Also, critics say, salaries are growing too high and faster than faculty salaries.

“There’s just a ratcheting effect that’s called a market effect, but whether it’s real or manufactured is hard to tell,” Patrick Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, told the Chronicle. “It puts pressure throughout the system to do more and more.”

In fiscal year 2000, the average salary of a U.S. private-college president was $207,130, up 11.2 percent from $186,255 the previous year, the Chronicle said. The average salary at private baccalaureate schools such as Simpson was $194,407.

How does Simpson’s presidential salary compare to comparable colleges in Iowa? While the following colleges have not yet released their tax forms for fiscal 2001, here are what their presidents earned in fiscal 2000:

>> Central College President David. H. Roe earned $135,000, the same as the previous year.

>> Richard L. Torgerson, president of Luther College, earned $143,183 in his first year at the Decorah school.

>> Coe College President James Phifer received a salary increase and earned $160,650.

>> President Leslie H. Garner of Cornell College also received a salary increase and earned $168,750.

Iowa’s highest-paid college president, Russell K. Osgood of Grinnell, earned $365,750 during fiscal 2000, according to that school’s tax return. Grinnell had $981.5 million in assets at the end of the fiscal year, compared to Simpson’s $106.6 million.

While the value of Simpson’s assets fell by $3.3 million during the fiscal year, largely due to declining stock-market values, Grinnell’s fell by $149 million during the same period.

Grinnell’s highest paid faculty member is Pamela Ferguson, professor of mathematics, who earned $222,160.

Eighty-six private-college presidents earned $300,000 or more in the 2000 fiscal year the Chronicle reported, while the average faculty member salary was $58,352.

Simpson’s tax return shows it lost about $3.9 million last year, its largest in four years. The school had revenues of $28 million and expenses totaling $31.9 million.

Officials at Simpson say the loss was due to the declining value of the stock market and did not represent a cash deficit.

The school’s unrealized losses — those represented by the falling value of stock– amounted to $9.6 million. According to Ken Birkenholtz, vice president of finances, unrealized losses are those that have not yet been cashed in.

“Stocks the school has invested in are unrealized losses,” Birkenholtz said. “We don’t actually have the money from them yet, but we have to account for their loss anyway. These are paper losses.”

Tax returns of all private colleges and universities can be obtained through the Internet at Simpson’s tax form is available for viewing in the president’s office in Hillman Hall at any time.