Money Issues: Michael Roth’s Salary

The Chronicle of Higher Education just released the 2009 survey results for executive pay at Private Universities. The information from this survey is interesting, especially considering the financial climate and Wesleyan’s current discussion among the faculty, WSA, and in three weeks the Board of Trustees, to find ways to cut Wesleyan’s budget. To put the numbers in perspective some of the cuts articulated in the WSA’s recent survey included cuts to the WESU and Green Street subsidies valued at $50,000 and $215,000 over a five year period. The difference in President Roth’s salary and that of President Owen (Williams), is approximately $110,000 per year.

“The median pay for those reviewed, which was $358,746, increased 6.5 percent from the 2006-7 fiscal year. Presidents at research universities fared even better, with a median of $627,750, an increase of 15.5 percent.” Still, of the 414 institutions in the survey over 100 had presidents earning upwards of $600,000. The article goes on to say that “the increase in salaries can partially be attributed to the trustees who set the president’s compensation and come to the table with corporate backgrounds.”

In a time where budget cuts are the norm and salary caps are being proposed for executives in the business world, should our president receive such a large salary? How does one determine how much a school president is worth, and who has the authority to do so?

Tell us what you think, Wesleyan.

President Roth, Wesleyan:

Year
Title
Pay
Benefits
Expense account
Total compensation
2007-8
Wesleyan University, president
$564,007
$76,751
$26,682
$640,758

Morton Owen Schapiro, Williams:

Year
Title
Pay
Benefits
Expense account
Total compensation
2007-8
Williams College, president
$435,000
$93,201
$80,438
$528,201

Ronald D. Liebowitz, Middlebury:

Year
Title
Pay
Benefits
Expense account
Total compensation
2007-8
Middlebury College, president
$330,152
$183,860
$126,855
$514,012

Marvin Krislov, Oberlin:

Year
Title
Pay
Benefits
Total compensation
2007-8
Oberlin College, president
$288,113
$65,438
$353,551

Anthony W. Marx, Amherst:

Year
Title
Pay
Benefits
Total compensation
2007-8
Amherst College, President
$319,265
$184,092
$503,357

Catherine Hill, Vassar:

Year
Title
Pay
Benefits
Expense account
Total compensation
2007-8
Vassar College, president
$390,500
$59,637
$23,601
$450,137

Karen R. Lawrence, Sarah Lawrence College:

Year
Title
Pay
Benefits
Expense account
Total compensation
2007-8
Sarah Lawrence College, president
$291,667
$30,144
$85,750
$321,811

Ruth J. Simmons, Brown University

Year
Title
Pay
Benefits
Expense account
Total compensation
2007-8
Brown University, President
$636,158
$182,304
$0
$818,462

Check out the article here.

71 thoughts on “Money Issues: Michael Roth’s Salary

  1. Wes Alum/Employee

    To #18: Other areas of campus life have taken a cut, like staff. As a staff member and an alum, it would be a nice gesture if he suffered with us and gave a percentage of his pay back to the university. I was really shocked when I saw these figures and also wonder why they don’t add up properly. Roth started out being fairly transparent but I lost faith in him after his first year.

  2. Wes Alum/Employee

    To #18: Other areas of campus life have taken a cut, like staff. As a staff member and an alum, it would be a nice gesture if he suffered with us and gave a percentage of his pay back to the university. I was really shocked when I saw these figures and also wonder why they don’t add up properly. Roth started out being fairly transparent but I lost faith in him after his first year.

  3. Mad

    I’d like to preface this by saying I’m a huge fan of Michael Roth as President of Wesleyan. Since I was class of ’09, I spent my first two years with Bennet as President and my later two years with Roth – and I think the atmosphere/mood on campus has improved considerably. Roth is way more responsive to student concern, accessible, and actively involved in the campus community.

    So my criticism of Roth’s pay is not a criticism of Roth. However, it’s difficult to argue that his pay package is not a hell of a lot of money. In order to balance our budget, we’re negotiating on things that aren’t supposed to be negotiable (like need-blind financial aid for transfer students) – so shouldn’t administrative pay also be up for negotiation?

    To be fair, maybe it is. As far as I know, no one here has investigated whether his pay package already has been cut in the past year – this data is all from 07-08, which is before the current recession really hit. So I’d like to know this information.

    Roth deserves a great salary. But what I don’t understand is why it needs to be considerably higher than peer institutions like Williams and Amherst that have larger endowments. It’s important for us to pay our administrators competitively, but it may as well be in a comparable range.

    *shrug* Just my opinion!

  4. Mad

    I’d like to preface this by saying I’m a huge fan of Michael Roth as President of Wesleyan. Since I was class of ’09, I spent my first two years with Bennet as President and my later two years with Roth – and I think the atmosphere/mood on campus has improved considerably. Roth is way more responsive to student concern, accessible, and actively involved in the campus community.

    So my criticism of Roth’s pay is not a criticism of Roth. However, it’s difficult to argue that his pay package is not a hell of a lot of money. In order to balance our budget, we’re negotiating on things that aren’t supposed to be negotiable (like need-blind financial aid for transfer students) – so shouldn’t administrative pay also be up for negotiation?

    To be fair, maybe it is. As far as I know, no one here has investigated whether his pay package already has been cut in the past year – this data is all from 07-08, which is before the current recession really hit. So I’d like to know this information.

    Roth deserves a great salary. But what I don’t understand is why it needs to be considerably higher than peer institutions like Williams and Amherst that have larger endowments. It’s important for us to pay our administrators competitively, but it may as well be in a comparable range.

    *shrug* Just my opinion!

  5. Sam

    Look at it as a per-student issue:

    $640,758/2916 students = $219.74 per student per year goes into Roth’s salary.

    Not too much, considering that the actual cost of a Wesleyan education is around $69,000 per year.

    If he manages to competently lead the school in a good direction then it’s worth it.

  6. Sam

    Look at it as a per-student issue:

    $640,758/2916 students = $219.74 per student per year goes into Roth’s salary.

    Not too much, considering that the actual cost of a Wesleyan education is around $69,000 per year.

    If he manages to competently lead the school in a good direction then it’s worth it.

  7. Avocado Post author

    Well, that depends on how big of a fuss this discussion stirs up. It would look like an honorable sacrifice in the bests of interests of the institution if he accepted the pay cut on his own. If this became a major campus issue (I doubt it will be, but who knows) and people started demanding that he take a cut, things might be different. It might begin to seem like he was taking a pay cut only because he felt pressured to, not because he felt morally obliged to.
    While it could be that President Roth wouldn’t care about the distinction, past presidents have spun their capitulation to student demands in a way that portrays themselves as having decided the issue on their own (Doug Bennet’s response to the “Independent Ivy” debacle comes to mind).

  8. Avocado

    Well, that depends on how big of a fuss this discussion stirs up. It would look like an honorable sacrifice in the bests of interests of the institution if he accepted the pay cut on his own. If this became a major campus issue (I doubt it will be, but who knows) and people started demanding that he take a cut, things might be different. It might begin to seem like he was taking a pay cut only because he felt pressured to, not because he felt morally obliged to.
    While it could be that President Roth wouldn’t care about the distinction, past presidents have spun their capitulation to student demands in a way that portrays themselves as having decided the issue on their own (Doug Bennet’s response to the “Independent Ivy” debacle comes to mind).

  9. Zach

    “Also, discuss the political ramifications of the President conceding to a pay cut. How would that look? If it did happen, how would it be spun?”

    I’m not sure what you’re implying here. Wouldn’t that look like an honorable sacrifice in the best interests of the institution? How *else* could it be spun?

  10. Avocado Post author

    One issue that this brings up is the question of how much pay is tied to performance, especially in a university setting. Commenter 8 wrote:

    “in times of the greatest crisis are the times when you need the greatest leadership. If Roth is capable of bringing wes back on top, then he deserves his salary.”

    If Roth had a lower salary, would he not work as hard, or would he go to another institution?
    Also, discuss the political ramifications of the President conceding to a pay cut. How would that look? If it did happen, how would it be spun?

  11. Avocado

    One issue that this brings up is the question of how much pay is tied to performance, especially in a university setting. Commenter 8 wrote:

    “in times of the greatest crisis are the times when you need the greatest leadership. If Roth is capable of bringing wes back on top, then he deserves his salary.”

    If Roth had a lower salary, would he not work as hard, or would he go to another institution?
    Also, discuss the political ramifications of the President conceding to a pay cut. How would that look? If it did happen, how would it be spun?

  12. anonymous

    @14:
    Vassar’s president does teach as well; I remember it mentioned on my tour.

    I don’t want this to turn into a “thing” either, and I don’t think it will because I still love Michael Roth, but this article really surprises me and I really am curious to hear what he has to say about it.

    -1

  13. anonymous

    @14:
    Vassar’s president does teach as well; I remember it mentioned on my tour.

    I don’t want this to turn into a “thing” either, and I don’t think it will because I still love Michael Roth, but this article really surprises me and I really am curious to hear what he has to say about it.

    -1

  14. anon

    Roth’s huge paycheck not taking a hit while student funding takes a massive hit is ridiculous. Department funding and thus their ability to bring prestigious speakers to campus got hit (so students suffer), Reslife budget got hit majorly so it is harder for houses and residence halls to host events, and much more. These cuts, especially the reslife, saved the school only a few thousand dollars- and this is money that is used to serve students and better serve the community, yet Roth is paid a huge amount and he doesn’t even have to pay rent right? I mean he lives on campus. I am not saying he isn’t a great guy, just I think even the symbolic gesture of his taking a paycut would be much appreciated. Seriously what does anyone need with all that money?

  15. anon

    Roth’s huge paycheck not taking a hit while student funding takes a massive hit is ridiculous. Department funding and thus their ability to bring prestigious speakers to campus got hit (so students suffer), Reslife budget got hit majorly so it is harder for houses and residence halls to host events, and much more. These cuts, especially the reslife, saved the school only a few thousand dollars- and this is money that is used to serve students and better serve the community, yet Roth is paid a huge amount and he doesn’t even have to pay rent right? I mean he lives on campus. I am not saying he isn’t a great guy, just I think even the symbolic gesture of his taking a paycut would be much appreciated. Seriously what does anyone need with all that money?

  16. Zach

    To #16:

    I don’t think the post criticizes Roth’s performance in any way, or even implies as much. Rather, in a period of massive budget cuts coupled with rising tuition, this seems particularly relevant with regard to other fiscal issues.

  17. anon

    Guys, come on. This isn’t fair. Let’s not start a mob over it. Roth does a good job, and I don’t want this to turn into a thing.

  18. anon

    Guys, come on. This isn’t fair. Let’s not start a mob over it. Roth does a good job, and I don’t want this to turn into a thing.

  19. Person

    some explain the expense account why does Roth spend so much less comparatively? and how come they have expense accounts when they have salaries?

  20. Person

    some explain the expense account why does Roth spend so much less comparatively? and how come they have expense accounts when they have salaries?

  21. Student

    11.

    Look at the trend of the other schools as well.

    We were stagnant or worse, and they weren’t.

    Inertia’s hard to overcome, but someone has to get the ball moving.

    -8

  22. Student

    11.

    Look at the trend of the other schools as well.

    We were stagnant or worse, and they weren’t.

    Inertia’s hard to overcome, but someone has to get the ball moving.

    -8

  23. Anon

    I actually found out what Roth’s salary was a few weeks ago, and calculated that he makes in one year what my mother does in twenty-five.
    -_-

  24. Anon

    I actually found out what Roth’s salary was a few weeks ago, and calculated that he makes in one year what my mother does in twenty-five.
    -_-

  25. Anonymous

    For #7, the tables list people who retired at the end of the academic year. So Bennett took in that pay during his final year at Wesleyan, but by the time the table was published, he was a former officer.

    #8, the endowments at Wesleyan’s peer institutions tripled or quadrupled, while at Wesleyan is barely doubled, *after* a capital campaign.

  26. Anonymous

    For #7, the tables list people who retired at the end of the academic year. So Bennett took in that pay during his final year at Wesleyan, but by the time the table was published, he was a former officer.

    #8, the endowments at Wesleyan’s peer institutions tripled or quadrupled, while at Wesleyan is barely doubled, *after* a capital campaign.

  27. Anon

    So pay + benefits + expense account is larger than total compensation? These numbers don’t add up.

  28. Student

    It’s all well and good to say that he should take a pay cut to help cover some of the student programs. I’d love it if he did that.

    That being said, in times of the greatest crisis are the times when you need the greatest leadership. If Roth is capable of bringing wes back on top, then he deserves his salary.

    If you’re complaining about Bennett, then just look at the endowment pre and post his Presidency.

    And then shut up.

  29. Student

    It’s all well and good to say that he should take a pay cut to help cover some of the student programs. I’d love it if he did that.

    That being said, in times of the greatest crisis are the times when you need the greatest leadership. If Roth is capable of bringing wes back on top, then he deserves his salary.

    If you’re complaining about Bennett, then just look at the endowment pre and post his Presidency.

    And then shut up.

  30. Anon

    Wait – at Anon #5’s comment – does that mean that Bennet earned $743,444 as an EX-PRESIDENT in 2007-2008? because that’s far more ridiculous.

    Someone explain what else that chart title could mean: “Top Compensation Among Former Officers at Private Colleges, 2007-8”

  31. Abraham Lincoln

    Ditto #1.

    My cheeks just reddened in the privacy of my carrel. I’d be pretty curious to see what our fearless leader has to say about this.

    (Hmm… Sarah Lawrence’s president gets paid half as much as MSR, but their tuition is the highest in the country. Where’s all that money going?)

  32. Abraham Lincoln

    Ditto #1.

    My cheeks just reddened in the privacy of my carrel. I’d be pretty curious to see what our fearless leader has to say about this.

    (Hmm… Sarah Lawrence’s president gets paid half as much as MSR, but their tuition is the highest in the country. Where’s all that money going?)

  33. anonymous

    wow, I totally thought the 110k difference was going to be Williams’ president earning 110k MORE than Roth, not less… I’m surprised. and a little embarrassed.

    (but at least we’re not Brown)

  34. anonymous

    wow, I totally thought the 110k difference was going to be Williams’ president earning 110k MORE than Roth, not less… I’m surprised. and a little embarrassed.

    (but at least we’re not Brown)

Comments are closed.