Knapp's salary continues to climb

by Kierran Petersen

President Steven Knapp's total compensation includes life insurance, employee retirement contribution and contributions toward tuition assistance totaling $154,696.
Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
President Steven Knapp's total compensation includes life insurance, employee retirement contribution and contributions toward tuition assistance totaling $154,696.

Clarification and correction appended

University President Steven Knapp's salary landed above the $1 million threshold for the second straight year, maintaining his place as one of the top-paid college presidents in the country.

Knapp's pay inched up to $1,165,813 for fiscal year 2011, including compensation and benefits, according to a financial disclosure form. That number is more than a 10 percent increase from last year, when he surpassed the 1 million dollar mark for the first time.

His raise far trumps the 1.4 percent uptick in college presidents' median salaries across the country from 2009-2010, after accounting for inflation, according to the American Association of University Professors report released this spring.

Knapp clocked in at No. 35 out of 519 presidents nationwide for his salary that year, topping the charts among his District counterparts, and leading Georgetown University's John DeGioia by more than $140,000. A total of 36 presidents, including heads from market basket schools such as Northwestern, Vanderbilt, New York and Boston universities, made more than $1 million dollars in fiscal year 2009, according to the most recent data published by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

His total compensation includes life insurance, employee retirement contribution and contributions toward tuition assistance totaling $154,696, University spokeswoman Candace Smith said.

He also received $141,575 in the form of "incentive compensation," which Smith said is a way of representing the Board of Trustees' view of Knapp's overall success.

The University president's salary is determined by a Board of Trustees committee that assesses pay based on an analysis from an outside consulting firm. The analysis compares the salary to pay received by other college presidents, taking into account geographic location and the length of each leader's tenure.

Scott Jaschik, co-founder and editor of Inside Higher Ed, said it would be unusual for a president's salary not to increase, as the boost in pay indicates that a school wants to keep the top leader around.

For most presidents, salary is less of a reward and more of a retention device by a school's governing body, he said.

"Most employees expect to get a raise every year. These people work very hard, so it's not surprising that he got a raise," Jaschik said, adding that many universities' board members come from the business world, where annual raises are the norm.

Professor of Engineering Management Shahram Sarkani, the second-highest earner reported on the University's Form 990 financial disclosure form released this month, earned $847,892 in the 2010 fiscal year. Sarkani heads up the engineering management and systems engineering department's programming, including its 25 classes in the U.S. and overseas.

The third-highest paid faculty member is John Williams, former provost and vice president for health affairs and professor of anesthesiology and health services management and policy, who received $847,663 that year. Williams was hired as a doctor of medicine in 1975 after receiving his master's degree in public health from Yale University.

Out of the top 22 paid faculty and administrators disclosed to the Internal Revenue Service, six employees represent science and engineering fields, including Sarkani and Williams.

But the medical field is not comparable to other industries because salaries in this field are earned in part through treatment of patients, not just teaching, Sam Dunietz, research assistant at the American Association of University Professors said.

Both Dunietz and Jaschik said these fields generally see higher pay grades than professors because schools must compete with private practices, which could generally pay doctors, engineers and lawyers the same or more than a university could.

"If you look at, let's say, someone in the humanities, in many cases there is not a direct field that correlates to them [in the private sector], but if you look at an electrical engineer, that is more of a high demand field," Dunietz said.

Breaking from that trend, the average salaries of the six medical and engineering professors who made the list of top paid employees dipped in 2010 to $516,118 from 2009, when the four professors on the list averaged $537,197 a year.

Also appearing on the top paid list are Robert Chernak, the senior vice provost and senior vice president for student and academic support services, and President Emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg.

Chernak, who received $667,849 in 2010, up from $595,014 the previous year, will step down June 30.

Trachtenberg retired in July 2007 when his salary totaled $3,578,566 plus $80,003 in benefits, but received $648,433 total in the 2010 fiscal year from the University for his role as professor emeritus.

Poonam Narotam contributed to this report

This article was updated June 12, 2012 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet reported that Steven Knapp's pay was $1,165,813 for fiscal year 2010. That number is his total compensation, including benefits, not just his salary.

This article was updated June 7, 2013 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported Steven Knapp's total compensation was over $1 million for fiscal year 2010. It was fiscal year 2011.

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