These data show the compensation received by the chief executives of each of 448 private nonprofit colleges in the United States in 2008-9. Figures for previous years are also shown, but they are not comparable to the 2008-9 figures because of changes in reporting requirements.
The Chronicle compiled compensation figures from the Internal Revenue Service’s Form 990, which is filed by most major nonprofit entities. We obtained each institution’s form from the college or from GuideStar, an organization that posts the documents online.
Our analysis for 2008-9 included private colleges classified as research, master’s, and baccalaureate institutions by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2005.
The Chronicle included institutions in the 2008-9 data that reported $50-million or more in expenditures. The data exclude some religious colleges that paid compensation to a religious order that in turn supported the college’s president. The data also exclude colleges that claimed religious exemption from filing the Form 990.
The IRS extensively overhauled and expanded the Form 990 before the 2008-9 tax year and required key changes in how colleges must report pay and benefits for the highest-earning employees.
The form now requires colleges to report compensation as it appeared on the employee’s W-2 tax form. For 2008-9, those amounts are from the 2008 calendar year, not the institution’s fiscal year, the period used in previous years. (Many colleges use a fiscal year ending June 30.)
As a result, the data reported here for 2008-9 overlap somewhat with figures that The Chronicle published last year about the 2007-8 fiscal year. In some cases, The Chronicle reported large, one-time payments for both 2008-9 and the previous year, because of the overlap of the 2007-8 fiscal year and the 2008 calendar year.
The IRS also restructured how this information is reported on the form, requiring an additional level of detail for pay and benefits. As a result, the subtotals for these categories are not directly comparable to amounts reported on previous versions of the Form 990 and published by The Chronicle in previous years.
The pay component is broken into three categories:
- “Base compensation,” which includes categories like base salary, sick pay paid by the employer, and contributions to a 401(k) plan.
- “Bonus,” which includes incentive pay and signing-bonus pay.
- “Other,” which includes deferred compensation, or pay set aside and reported on the Form 990 in previous years that was paid out in the current tax year. “Other” also includes loans, vested retirement plans, taxable health benefits, and taxable personal services.
Benefits were also separated into new categories:
- “Deferred compensation,” which includes compensation allocated to be paid in later years.
- “Benefits,” which include categories such as nontaxable health-benefit premiums, nontaxable housing provided by the employer, and nontaxable personal services.
For 2008-9, total compensation is the sum of these five categories. Those totals are not comparable to amounts reported on the Form 990 in previous years. In those years, the IRS defined total compensation differently, as the sum of total pay and total benefits. Colleges were not required to itemize components of pay or of benefits, like deferred compensation, although some did so voluntarily. In addition, the old Form 990 included a separate amount for employees’ expenses that was not included in total compensation.
Colleges are generally required to list the pay and benefits of current officers, directors, and other key employees when their reportable compensation is above $150,000.
The Chronicle obtained data on compensation from Schedule J, Part II, of the Form 990, where available. Otherwise, data from Part VII or Schedule J-2 were used. College revenues and expenditures were collected from Part I, Line 12 and Line 18, respectively.
Though the Form 990 reports earnings according to calendar-year 2008, The Chronicle’s sample included only presidents who served during the 2008-9 fiscal year, for consistency with last year’s analysis. In some cases, more than one president served at an institution during 2008-9. All persons serving in the capacity of chief executive were used in the analysis, including interim leaders if they served for more than six months. Employees who are no longer president are denoted with an asterisk.—Andrea Fuller and Alex Richards