Big names making big bucks

By Samuel Charles

Brought on by economic woes, Columbia’s top administrators’ salaries remained static during the 2008–2009 fiscal year, according to the 990 tax form, which the Internal Revenue Service requires all nonprofit educational institutions to file.

Once again, President Warrick L. Carter was the leading salary earner, pulling down $330,885, and Zafra Lerman, former head of the Science Institute, was second, with $244,861. Lerman was relieved of her duties in late 2009.

According to Columbia’s Form 990, which is made public a year after such forms are filed, the third highest-paid administrator was Steven Kapelke, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, who earned $224,822.

The college imposed a freeze on the salaries of the president and vice presidents as well as a hiring freeze during the 2008-2009 fiscal year, so there were no surprises in the filing.

Carter’s salary, for example, remained basically the same as it was in 2007–08, when his compensation was $316,609. While it appears his salary increased, the difference is in the way the forms are now tallied, according to Michael DeSalle, Columbia’s CFO and vice president of Business Affairs. They now include other compensation and nontaxable benefits.

Carter’s base compensation in 2008 was $298,734. Adding in the $32,151 in “other compensation” he received, his total income was $330,885. The shift in his reported income may have been due to his bonus, as it fluctuates from year to year and is decided upon by the college’s Board of Trustees, DeSalle said.

“There have been no changes in [administrators’] salaries,” DeSalle said. “It’s a matter of how they were logged.”

Rounding out the top 10: DeSalle, $207,973; Eliza Nichols, dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts, $199,029; Eric Winston, vice president of Institutional Advancement, $198,977; Mark Kelly, vice president of Student Affairs, $197,296; J. Richard Dunscomb, chair of the Music Department, $193,715; Annice Kelly, vice president of Legal Affairs and General Counsel, $192,841; Alicia Berg, vice president of Campus Environment, $192,059.

The highest paid private college president in the country in 2008 was Bernard Lander of Touro College, located in New York City.

At the time, Lander’s base compensation was $4.79 million, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Columbia’s administration is paid comparably to many other colleges and universities in the country.

Out of 448 college leaders surveyed by The Chronicle of Higher Education, 41.3 percent reported their annual base compensation between $200,000 and $399,000, which is Carter’s income bracket.

In 2008, salaries accounted for $128 million of the college’s budget of $233 million, approximately $9 million more than in 2007.

“The raise in salaries was due directly to the increase in tuition,” DeSalle said.

In 2007, every full-time college employee received a raise. In 2008, every full-time employee besides the president and vice presidents received raises.

The next 990 to be released, detailing the 2009 fiscal year, will show no employee within the college receiving a raise.

“Traditionally, raises [are] given on Sept. 1 [every year],” said Ellen Krutz, vice president of Human Resources. “But there were none given in 2009.”

The 990 also shows where Columbia’s funding is coming from and where it’s going.

In 2008, the college collected $233,199,143 in total revenue.

Contributions and grants accounted for $12.9 million, $3.39 million came from other revenue and $237.89 million was collected from program service revenue, money from tuition, course fees and anything else the college charges for.However, the college’s investment income dropped from $8.5 million in profit in 2007 to a $21 million deficit in 2008.

The college buys stocks, bonds and securities the same way private investors do, and the college’s investments weren’t immune to the downturn in the economy.

The negative swing, which totals nearly $30 million, has yet to be realized. Columbia has shares in different stocks, bonds and securities, which haven’t been sold in anticipation of the market turning around. The current loss is being accounted for, but Columbia’s finances haven’t taken the hit yet, DeSalle said.

The college’s endowment is a combination of two sources of revenue: Donations from outsiders, coupled with budget surpluses from previous years compounded together.

“The big decline represents the economy,” DeSalle said. “Every college and university has seen its portfolio decline.”

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