College President’s pay

11/2/2009: Stories in the Chronicle and the WSJ about high salaries for retired private university presidents. I think the Chronicle will release new data on publics soon. This story would suggest Frohnmayer’s golden parachute deal is unusually fat, however – only 20% of private schools pay ex-president’s more than $200,000. As a poor public – without a medical school, which is where the big money shows up – we pay Frohnmayer $245,000, plus expenses. (We hear a new rumor that Frohnmayer is now out soliciting UO donors to give to his proposed “Frohnmayer Leadership Center”. Wonderful.)

Provost Bean’s Senate numbers are wrong: UO’s senior administrators are overpaid.

When using identical and comparable institutions:

UO senior administrators are paid 120% of their peers.

UO full professors are paid 81% of their peers.

Scroll down for spreadsheets. Comparison institutions are all public and private PhD granting institutions from the Chronicle of Higher Ed. This is the comparison group UO uses when setting administrator salaries: no senior UO administrators are paid less than 100% of the median in this peer goup. Frohnmayer, Bean and Martinez (even without his second job) account for most of the excess above 100%. Go here for the Chronicle faculty data, here for administrators. UO President Frohnmayer needs a spreadsheet of his own, here.

Update 5/18/2009:
At the 5/13/2009 Senate meeting Provost Bean refused to give up on his Furlough meeting claim that UO’s Admin expense ratio was 38% of peers. Odd, because an hour before the meeting one of your Editors was talking with OUS Legal Counsel and Board Secretary Ryan Hagemann, who said that despite extensive searching OUS could find no evidence to support this claim. Mr. Hagemann then said that he would be encouraging Provost Bean to stop making claims of this sort unless he could back them up with data. Bean also tried to argue that UO administrators were underpaid. Confusingly, Provost Bean left his own $25,700 “stipend” – which he takes as straight salary – out of his own reported pay. (more below).

Why was Mr. Hagemann so firm on this point? Because in Oregon it is a crime to misrepresent administrative expenses when you are soliciting charitable donations – as Provost Bean appears to have done at the furlough meeting. (To be fair to Provost Bean this is pretty ungrateful of the OUS people, who reportedly all but forced him to try the furlough scheme in the first place!)

At the Senate meeting Bean said that misinformation about UO’s administrative expenses were being spread by blogs. We are happy to hear he is not the only administrator reading UO Matters. His extensive remarks and the data he presented to the Senate are an attempt to provide some sort of documentation for OUS for the claims about UO’s lean administration he made at the Furlough meeting. As we show below the administrative expense data he presented does not support his argument at all. Mr. Hageman also told us that OUS has no documentation supporting Provost Bean’s claim that Bend is in the black, and we are expecting that he will soon be asked to document that as well. We are *very* sure he cannot credibly do this no matter how much the data is massaged – it would take an outright lie. Provost Bean, the best approach at this point would be to retract both these claims and get out of your hole before it gets any deeper.

Briefly, Provost Bean’s data and analysis of administrator salaries does not show what he claims, because he compares UO administrators to those at AAU schools which have on average 160% of the students, 370% of the faculty, and 440% of the budget of UO. Of course these universities must pay their administrators more than administrators at UO’s actual comparators are paid. The comparisons we have posted below are better than Provost Bean’s with respect to both the set of comparators and the accuracy of the UO administrator salaries, and we stand by our conclusion: UO’s administrators are overpaid. However, even if you believe Bean’s analysis – which you should not – you would still have to conclude that UO administrators are substantially overpaid relative to UO faculty. Provost Bean is a case in point, even using the comparator group he selected himself. As an internal hire – with no experience and in his first year on the job – he is paid 96% of the salary of the average AAU public university Provost, who is dealing with an institution that is 4 times as large as UO. UO full professors are paid 80% of the average full professor at these same comparators. Why are UO faculty underpaid approximately the same amount regardless of the comparator group? Because the institutional complexities that determine administrator pay are not particularly important – in theory and in the actual salary data – for faculty, whose jobs involves teaching and research, not managing the institution.

Point by point rebuttal of Bean’s lean admin claims:
First Provost Bean claimed that Frohnmayer was paid just slightly more than his peers. But Bean – who has a PhD in Operations Research – departs from the standard definition by not reporting the $206,000 Frohnmayer receives in 401K and retirement pay. (He also excludes this from his numbers for other AAU presidents – but Frohnmayer’s retirement deal is unusually sweet.) He then tried to argue that years of service explained Frohnmayer’s unusually high salary. In fact the correlation between years of service and presidential pay as Bean defines it, excluding Frohnmayer, is negative (but insig diff from 0). This is not surprising: years of experience would be a more interesting question.

He then attempted to argue that the other UO senior administrators were underpaid. Right. Notably, while UO Matters compares the salaries of administrators and faculty at UO to those at the same identical set of comparator institutions, Bean did not even report faculty salaries for his “comparators.” We have now done so using data. UO full professors are not just paid less than those at any of Bean’s comparators, they are paid 90% of salaries at the lowest other university (Wisconsin.) UO full professors are paid 80%, associates 85%, and assistants 91% of average, using Bean’s own comparator group. (Prof. Vitulli has done something similar using Academe data, she finds UO full professors get 77% of salaries at UO’s official OUS comparator institutions.)

Confusingly, Provost Bean left his own $25,700
“stipend” – which he takes as straight salary – out of his own reported pay. (Many UO admins get these stipends. They are left over from former Provost Moseley, who used them to pad admin salaries during the last OUS salary freeze. Some have been folded into salary by now, and only Bean and Martinez currently get substantial amounts of salary this way. Stipends at other institutions typicaly means expense money, not extra salary.) Correcting this apparent oversight, and using the comparator group Bean selected himself, we find as an internal hire with no experience in his first year on the job he is paid 96% of the average AAU public university Provost. As this OUS document shows, the Provosts which Bean thinks are he should be compared to have, roughly, 160% of the students, 370% of the faculty, and 440% of the budget that he and UO’s VPs must deal with. Obviously this comparison is heavily biased toward making UO’s administrators look underpaid. A more precise measure would require access to the CUPA data, which Bean is so far unwilling to share with UO Matters. We expect similar results will hold with this data, and for the other senior administrative positions at UO.

While Bean’s comparator group is biased in favor of making UO administrators look underpaid, the UO Matters comparison group is as broad as possible. We assume UO resembles the median PhD granting institution. There are 258 such public and private institutions in the US, and a position of 129 fits closely with UO’s rankings in most published sources. While the source for Bean’s comparisons (CUPA) includes the budget information needed to correct for budget and so on in a regression, Bean cut this data out of his tables. Provost Bean also claimed that the comparison faculty salaries we have posted here include salaries for (very well paid) medical school faculty. They do not. We are making a fair comparison between like groups of faculty. However, his comparison group of administrators does include those with responsibility for medical schools, adding to the bias in favor of himself and his administrators.

As we have shown the comparison group does not matter for UO faculty – we are equally underpaid no matter which comparator group you select. So why does our data show UO administrators are overpaid relative to peers while Bean’s show they are underpaid? Because the comparator groups are different. We argue UO is similar to the median Doctoral institution. Bean’s comparator institutions are unarguably larger, richer, and more complex than this or than UO – about than 4 times so, if you go by budget or faculty size. Obviously these universities must pay administrators more than the UO needs to pay. These institutional complexities are not particularly important – in theory and in the data – for determining salary for faculty, whose jobs involves teaching and research and not managing the institution.

The Editors of this blog have seen all these tricks and plenty of more clever ones many times before, and we are not amused. The comparisons we have posted here are considerably better than Provost Bean’s with respect to both the set of comparators and the accuracy of the UO salaries, and we stand by our conclusion: UO’s faculty is underpaid relative to peers, and its administrators are overpaid. However, even if you believe Bean’s analysis – which you should not – you would still have to conclude that UO faculty are substantially underpaid relative to UO administrators, while UO administrators are overpaid relative to UO faculty.

UO data is compiled from public records obtained from UO, generally only after lengthy delays and petitions to the Oregon DOJ – however all these records are public records posted with the knowledge of UO’s General Counsel Melinda Grier. In response to a request from a curious Johnson Hall dweller, I’ve also posted all the employment contracts I have, see the underlined links. This post is not peer-reviewed: If you have questions or see errors, please email uomatters at gmail dot com. This UO Senate report documents these and other trends over time.

CUPA data from Bean’s Senate report and other sources – he has not yet agreed to share the full data.

Pay and benefits

6/11/2009: One thing that will inevitably come up when discussing the fact that UO’s pay is last in the AAU and 10% below that of Missouri is benefits. Administrators claim that UO’s benefits are better than average. What they really mean is that UO pays more for benefits than other places do – very different from having better benefits! In particular, looking at costs does not account for things like regional differences in health costs, or more generous but not fully funded (hence cheaper) retirement programs at other schools. We’re not aware of any study that makes an accurate comparison. Also keep in mind UO’s retirement program is now much less generous than it was (although more expensive) and that cuts in health benefits are on the way. Administrators will also argue that Eugene has low housing costs. Maybe back when they bought in, but Eugene is no longer a cheap place to live.

A reader just alerted to me to a good table that includes pay and pay+benefits, posted by the AFT/AAUP Union people, using the same data as the Maneater article. Personally I think the AAU comparisons are not justified: we are not in that league anymore. But if we use all PhD granting the basic result that UO full profs get 81% of peers while UO senior administrators 120% is depressingly robust and controls for all these factors.

How did we get to this situation? Easy: For the past 15 years President Frohnmayer has been in charge. He determines how to allocate money between instruction and administration. He is not an academic and he could not have cared less about our ability to hire and keep the top faculty needed get UO back to Carnegie VHR status. But he was willing to pay top dollar for sycophant administrators and a raft of inane pet projects. We hope Lariviere does care and if he doesn’t prove it right away UO needs a union.

A few days ago we got a knowledgeable comment on our claim that the number of senior administrators was increasing. It said we were exaggerating: “this sure looks like a one-for-one replacement, distracting us from the more serious issues of the huge growth in Associate VPs, support staff, and so on.” We still think the number of senior admins has increased: We’ve added or will add VP for Diversity Martinez, and a VP for budgeting, and old VP’s Moseley, Davis, and Williams are still paid 1/2 time. But point taken otherwise.

Another reader then pointed us to UO’s institutional research site, here. It turns out there’s a lot of data on admin expenses. Still digesting, but the commentor seems correct that there has been big growth recently, much bigger than what has gone to the instructional side. More evidence as well that Provost Bean’s frequently reported 38% claim is bogus even according to the official UO data – which he presumably takes a look at every now and then!

The Commentor writes back: Yes, I have known about the IR site for years and often go there to get the actual facts – not that having real facts actually does any good around here. People hear only what they want to hear – helluva of a way to plan. In any event. To me one of the most striking features of the raw data, and one which most faculty and adminstrators don’t realize is true is that the actual number of tenure and tenure-track faculty has been essentially constant (631 +/- 17) over the last 15 years. Thus despite claims of “new programs” and more favorable faculty to student ratios, the plain truth as that has been no growth in these kind of faculty positions for the past 15 years. That defines institutional stagnation.


Note: on 5/26/2009 we got this comment on this post and it sounds pretty knowledgeable. We’ve left the original post up, but take it with a grain of salt.

“This is a very carefully sliced history. A more balanced view with a baseline from a few years ago: We had Moseley (Provost), Davis (VP Acad. Affairs), Anne Leavitt (VP, Student Affairs), and Dan Williams (VP, Administration), plus the other VPs for Development and for Research. They were replaced by Bean, Tomlin, Holmes, and Dyke. Lorraine only had the Student Affairs portfolio for a fairly short time, and Frances was mostly a replacement for Dan Williams, with the addition of some of JTM’s financial responsibilities. this sure looks like a one-for-one replacement, distracting us from the more serious issues of the huge growth in Associate VPs, support staff, and so on.”

Original post:

A little UO history – email us if there are any errors. Until 2006 John Moseley was Provost and Vice President for Finance and Lorraine Davis was Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. In 2006 Lorraine retired and her job was split in two – Russ Tomlin took the Academic Affairs part, and Robin Holmes the Student Affairs part. That same year Moseley retired and his job was also split in two. Jim Bean is now Provost and Frances Dyke is VP for Finance. Now we hear that Provost Bean is going to hire a new VP for Budgeting, with responsibility for all the parts of the job Frances Dyke hasn’t been able to figure out. She will keep some sort of title and her entire $212,000 salary. Meanwhile, incredibly, both Moseley and Davis are still on the UO payroll 1/2 time – Moseley runs UO’s money losing Bend programs from his retirement home on the Deschutes, and Lorraine Davis is now apparently traveling to away games at UO’s expense and proctoring athlete’s exams – if she has any more substantive responsibilities, we haven’t heard of them, and her $197,278 FTE contract has two more years to run. So, in less than 3 years UO’s core central admin has gone from 2 people earning a total of about $350,000 to:

  • $320,000 Jim Bean, Provost
  • $212,000 Frances Dyke, VP for Finance
  • $170,000 new VP for helping VP for Finance Frances Dyke
  • $177,000 Russ Tomlin, VP for Academic Affairs
  • $181,000 Robin Holmes, VP for Student Affairs
  • $124,000 John Moseley, Spec Asst to Provost Bean (that’s the pay for 1/2 time)
  • $99,000 Lorraine Davis, Spec Asst. to Pres and Provost (“)

Totals $1,283,000 before we talk benefits, secretaries, staff, fancy offices, … (We are omitting jobs such as VP’s for Research, Information, etc which have not changed.) And Provost Bean still stands by his claim that UO’s administrative expenses are 38% of our peers? Apparently he’s not the kind of a man who can admit a mistake, but he could redeem himself a bit – and earn his big salaryby insisting that Frances Dyke be replaced, not replicated. According to UO’s Org chart, all these people are Provost Jim Bean’s subordinates. This problem is his problem.