Baylor University’s president got a large pay raise in 2002-2003, while the average faculty member’s salary increased by single digits, according to an IRS form released last week by the Baptist-affiliated school in Waco, Texas.
President Robert Sloan was paid $420,731 in the 2002-2003 school year, according to IRS documents as reported in Sunday’s Waco Tribune-Herald. That represented a 29.6 percent pay raise from the previous year, according to the newspaper.
The school’s top financial officer also received a pay hike over 20 percent. David Brooks, vice president for finance, received $246,600 for 2002-2003, 22.4 percent more than he earned in the previous year.
Some professors speaking to local media protested the big raises for administrators, while faculty raises were much smaller. Tenured professors averaged a 2.3 percent pay increase, associate professors 3.8 percent and assistant professors 10.4 percent, according to the Waco newspaper.
Baylor recently had to trim $9 million from its budget because of lower-than-expected enrollment. The university froze hiring and cut travel budgets and spending for equipment. Administrators are recommending no salary raises for next year.
Baylor officials said the comparisons between administration and faculty raises don’t tell the whole story. The mood was much different in spring 2002, when the salaries were set, than today. The school was getting ready to kick off a 10-year program to boost Baylor’s academic reputation, and enrollment was stable.
When enrollment goals were not met in 2003, forcing cutbacks, administrators reportedly asked the university’s board of regents to freeze their salaries, without publicizing it, while faculty raises went through.
Also, officials say, faculty raises at Baylor were above the national average of about 3 percent for private colleges. Raises weren’t across the board, but went into a 4.25 percent pool and were distributed to faculty at rates varying from zero to, in one case, more than 42 percent.
Still, some faculty members said the numbers suggest inequity in compensation for administrators and faculty. Joe Cox, president of the faculty senate, told TV station KWTX that he is concerned about “double-digit pay raises for senior administrators in an era of low single-digit raises for faculty and staff.”
It’s part of a national trend, where colleges facing budget cuts and raising tuition are nevertheless compensating university presidents at record highs.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last year that the day of the million-dollar college president is drawing near. Four presidents of private universities earned more than $800,000 a year in 2002. While public universities paid lower, the numbers of state college presidents earning $500,000 or more doubled in 2003.
Education experts say salaries of university presidents are market driven, and there is little governing boards can do to rein them in. Critics say it hurts higher education when students are forced to pay more in tuition, while presidents are millionaires.
A Baylor regent who serves on a compensation committee that sets administrative salaries told the Waco Tribune-Herald that Sloan’s salary is neither the highest nor lowest when compared to other Big 12 universities, other 12,000-student private schools and other NCAA Division I schools.
Copies of Baylor’s Form 990, which non-profit organizations are required to file each year with the IRS reporting income, expenses and top salaries, show Sloan was paid $324,573 in fiscal year 2001-2002. That doesn’t include $60,768 in contributions to employee benefit plans and expense accounts and other allowances totaling $99,688.
The year before Sloan’s salary was $309,767 and the year before that $304,172.
The online database GuideStar.org, which reports financial information about charitable organizations in the United States, doesn’t have a Form 990 for Baylor for fiscal year 1999. The form for 1998, however, covering the tax year from June 1, 1987, to May 31, 1998, showed Sloan’s salary at $239,922. That means Sloan’s 2002-2003 salary represented a 75 percent increase over five years.
Sloan is well-paid compared to presidents of other schools belonging to the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools.
Mercer University’s Kirby Godsey received $310,000 in fiscal year 2002-2003. Campbell University paid President Norman Wiggins, who retired last May, $309,000 in 2002-2003. Gardner-Webb paid $301,821 to its then-president, Christopher White, who resigned in 2002 amid an NCCA grading controversy.
In the middle tier of presidential salaries, Robert Fisher at Belmont earned $270,000. In 2001-2002, according to IRS forms, while Samford University’s Thomas Corts was paid $277,782.
On the lower end of the scale, 2,700-student William Carey College in Hattiesburg, Miss., paid President Larry Kennedy $109,688 in compensation. President Andrew Westmoreland of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas was paid $110,000. Pat Taylor of Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo., was paid $115,428 in the fiscal year ending May 31, 2002.
Salaries of private Baptist colleges affiliated with Southern Baptist state conventions are required to file a Form 990, but many Southern Baptist entities are not. Salaries of top officials of the Southern Baptist Convention and seminary presidents, for example, are not disclosed. Under IRS guidelines, those groups are classified as a church, and churches are not required to file for tax-exempt status.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.