Private colleges and universities – and the board members and presidents who lead them – must recognize that they operate within a new age of transparency and disclosure of executive compensation policies. The days of quiet side deals, of surreptitiously padding the paychecks of presidents through the creative use of footnotes or financial gymnastics, are over. The pay packages at institutions of higher learning, whether they represent base salaries, bonuses, deferred retirement compensation, or all of the above and more, eventually will see the light of day.
Whether it is salary or benefits like deferred compensation and supplemental retirement plans, the argument is that somehow the compensation for these folks should not be like that for the same positions at similarly sized organizations in the for-profit sector. These arguments often come from those who see numbers and not the challenges and successes that take place in the trenches on an ongoing basis.