Consulting is basis for $700,000 professor

Salaries of the University’s top-earning professors trumped those of many deans and overshadowed their peers nationwide by hundreds of thousands of dollars, financial documents show.

Shahram Sarkani and Thomas Mazzuchi, both professors in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, earned base salaries of $703,186 and $481,208 respectively in 2009, according to financial disclosure forms filed this year.

“These individuals bring expertise in their fields to the University and in several cases have provided many years of service. Some faculty members also have multiple teaching and administration roles,” University spokesperson Candace Smith said.

Sarkani, who also served as chair of the engineering management and systems engineering department, earned additional benefits valued at $90,305.

Sarkani spent about 150 days on the road developing and teaching master’s and doctoral engineering programs across the country for clients such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. He taught six graduate-level courses in the fall 2009 and spring 2010 semesters, which preceded the disclosure forms.

“I greatly enjoy working with the excellent students who go on to become our alumni. The questions and ideas they bring to their studies generate the continual intellectual stimulation from which I derive joy and satisfaction,” Sarkani said.

Mazzuchi, the engineering management and systems engineering program’s off-campus director, earned other benefits that boosted his total compensation to $545,493.

He taught four graduate-level courses and advised dissertation research in the two semesters covered by the disclosure form. With 150 published works, Mazzuchi has taught on-and-off at GW since becoming an assistant professor in 1985.

Outside the University, he served on NASA’s Office of the Chief Engineer Management Operations Working Group and as principal investigator for the U.S. Army’s Science and Engineering Apprentice Program.

Under Sarkani and Mazzuchi, the University’s off-campus engineering management program grew from 300 students to more than 1,000. The annual revenue brought in by the program quadrupled from under $3 million to about $12 million in less than a decade, making it one of the University’s most profitable sectors.

“I’m a people person, so I like to interact with people. I like the feeling of helping someone understand something when maybe they haven’t been able to do so before or they’re afraid of the subject,” Mazzuchi said.

The University Provost considers department chairs’ annual recommendations when determining professors’ merit pay increases. Factors that influence these decisions include research productivity, community involvement, service within a professor’s discipline, extraordinary service to GW and market demand for expertise within a certain field, Smith said.

Sarkini and Mazzuchi’s base pay represented 4.6 and 3.1 times the average full-time faculty salary at doctoral institutions nationwide, respectively, according to data provided by the American Association of University Professors.

“In engineering, what makes the difference is the argument that these are people that could go into the private sector in some sort of commercial firm and therefore earn a lot of money,” said the association’s director of research and public policy John Curtis.

School of Media and Public Affairs professor Mike Freedman also landed on the University’s 23-person list of highest-compensated employees.

Freedman, also founding director of the University’s Global Media Institute, earned a base salary of $258,810 in the 2009-2010 financial year. He served an eight-year term as vice president of communications before becoming an instructor in 2009.

Freedman headed efforts to move the University’s Commencement ceremony to the National Mall and initiated partnerships with CNN, POLITICO, The National Press Club, The Newseum and singer Tony Bennett’s Exploring the Arts Foundation. The winner of last year’s Staub Faculty Excellence Award, he also produces the Kalb Report public television series and two weekly radio series.

Former University President Stephen Trachtenberg, who served as a professor of public service in the 2009 to 2010 financial year, earned a base salary of $289,830 plus benefits and additional pay, raking in a total compensation of $669,338. He stepped down as president in 2007.
This article was updated Aug. 25, 2011 to reflect the following:
This article previously quoted an unnamed University spokesperson. The spokesperson, Candace Smith, did not want to be taken off the record.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.