For the first time in recent history, a statistics professor broke into the University’s list of top-paid employees last fiscal year.
Nozer Singpurwalla, who also taught business classes, joined the group in 2012 after he accepted a buyout – an offer GW makes to employees to step down from their positions.
Since 2008, just two professors in the engineering school have landed in the same tier as deans and top officials like GW’s provost and chief financial officer. But this year, Singpurwalla and retired law professor Ira Lupu made the list.
Singpurwalla is also the first professor from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, GW’s largest school, to appear on the list in the past five years. He was the sixth-highest paid employee, earning more from his job at GW than former Columbian College dean Peg Barratt.
Lupu also negotiated a lucrative buyout in 2012, which made him the second law professor in the last five years to be named a top-paid employee. As No. 8 on the list, he earned more than both former law school dean Paul Schiff Berman and interim dean Gregory Maggs.
The two professors knocked some of GW’s highest-paid administrators off the list, most notably former GW School of Business dean Doug Guthrie. The University is required to report its highest-compensated employees in annual tax returns.
Singpurwalla earned about $835,000, which included salary, benefits and a $461,000 check for retiring. Lupu’s compensation totaled about $786,000, including a $523,000 severance package, according to GW’s most recent tax filings.
Lupu warned that the documents could be misleading because while he made the top 22, he was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars less than the top five.
“I was well-paid, but I wasn’t paid like Steven Knapp,” he said.
Three administrators – University President Steven Knapp, Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz and former Senior Associate Provost John “Skip” Williams – earned more than $1 million. With his retirement package, former Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak earned more than $2 million.
After 44 years at GW, Singpurwalla said he accepted a buyout that the University had offered to long-serving faculty. City University in Hong Kong approached him soon after, and he has worked as a professor of risk analysis and management there for the last year.
He said his salary increased drastically at GW as he successfully won grants, which helped fund his own pay. He also directed dissertations, published often and became well-known internationally.
“Faculty can increase their salary by being competitive and by striving for excellence. This will increase their desirability with other institutions and when that happens, salaries go up,” he said.
Several of the grants he brought in funded other faculty’s research, as well as scholarships for students, he said. He was awarded grants from groups like Ford Motor Company and the Office of Naval Research, as well as the National Science Foundation.
He also appeared as an expert witness in eight legal cases and was a consultant for the U.S. Postal Service.
GW relies on most professors to bring in at least some of their own salaries through subsidies from research, and as professors bring in more grants, they see bigger paychecks.
Typically, deans have a pool of money from the University that’s designated for faculty salaries. As it increases from year to year, they can spread out those additional funds across faculty as they choose. School leaders often use the funds to motivate professors to present research and publish findings more often.
Singpurwalla said his salary increased even more quickly because the University knew he was receiving offers from other universities, and so they offered him a higher salary annually to keep him at GW.
“My salary changed because of the value and the reputation I was bringing in, as perceived by GW, and competing offers from other institutions,” he said.
Lupu agreed that faculty who ask for raises are more often successful if they have offers from other institutions in their pockets.
In 2012, he negotiated a retirement package with Berman, which Lupu said was confidential because the then-dean introduced a one-time buyout policy for some senior faculty. He said few other faculty agreed to take the deal.
Lupu taught constitutional law at GW for 25 years, publishing several articles each year about religion. He is now co-authoring a book with professor Robert Tuttle that will be released this summer.
He also mentored other professors for more than a year as the school’s associate dean for faculty affairs, and sat on the school’s tenure and promotion committee.