Top administrator paychecks trump peer average

Administrators at the University earn on average almost two times as much as their peers at other institutions, a Hatchet analysis found.

Top-paid GW officials made on average 1.77 times the national median salary when compared to other doctoral institutions in fiscal year 2010, according to a review of financial disclosure forms and a survey by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.

The Hatchet’s analysis examined all administrators for whom University and national salary data was available, a total of 18 of the 23 highest-paid GW administrators. The Association data includes public and private doctoral institutions in the same category.

Chief Investment Officer Don Lindsey earned $423,073 in base compensation, more than twice the national median of $200,000. Likewise, former men’s head basketball coach Karl Hobbs earned a base salary of $450,480, twice the national median compensation for his position.

University President Steven Knapp’s base compensation was $691,462, 1.84 times the national median for a doctoral institution’s top executive. His total compensation including bonuses and benefits topped $1 million for the first time this year.

James Scott, former dean of the GW Medical School, earned $406,735, similar to national figures. Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean Peg Barratt earned $297,480, 1.49 times the national average.

These base compensation figures do not reflect additional bonuses, incentive pay and benefits earned by the 23 top-paid administrators in that year.

This comes on the heels of another national survey that showed full-time GW professors earned 7 percent less than their counterparts nationwide in 2011.

When the data was adjusted to exclude administrators who were paid for only part of their term after leaving or assuming their positions midway through the fiscal year, University administrators made more than twice their national counterparts.

“It is important to note that average salaries at the national level do not serve as an appropriate benchmark for GW. National averages blend schools that are large and small, public and private, rural and urban, and located in low cost and high cost geographies,” University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said. “GW philosophy is to be fair and competitive to ensure we are able to attract and retain the talent necessary to maintain the success of the University.”

Missy Kline, the managing editor for the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, said she doesn’t comment on specific universities’ compensation levels, but said mitigating factors often affect pay, including education and incumbency.

“There are significant variations in institutional budgets and student populations at doctoral granting institutions that could also impact salaries,” Kline added.

The Board of Trustees approves administrator salaries each year with input from a private firm that specializes in executive compensation.

“The firm provides independent consulting advice to the Board of Trustees regarding best practices in executive pay, and the Board sets salaries based on market comparisons and evaluations of performance,” Sherrard.

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