Brandeis paid ex-president millions more
Brandeis University disclosed Thursday that it paid former president Jehuda Reinharz $811,000 this month for sabbatical leaves that he accumulated but never took during his 17-year presidency and will pay him an additional $2 million for part-time work over the next decade.
The announcement came after an uproar over disclosure of how much Reinharz has been paid since he left the president’s office at the end of 2010. Brandeis officials said they voluntarily revealed details about his pay as part of a new commitment to be more open and fair in setting executive compensation.
“Our new policies set very high standards,” said Brandeis board chairman Perry M. Traquina in a statement. “These governance changes turn a new page for the university and aim to make Brandeis a national leader in terms of best practices for executive compensation.”
University officials said that the $811,000 in sabbatical pay was part of a $4.9 million lump sum payment Reinharz received on January 2. The rest was for deferred compensation that officials at the Waltham university said was gradually earned and reported on tax returns during Reinharz’s tenure as president.
A university spokeswoman said the sabbatical pay was mentioned in a previous footnote and will be reported again, along with the payment of the deferred compensation, in a tax return in May 2016. But the university made the point of voluntarily including the figure in an announcement on the new compensation policies Thursday.
“Instead of disclosing it in 2016, we are disclosing it now,” said Brandeis spokeswoman Ellen de Graffenreid.
Faculty and students alike protested after the Globe reported in November that Reinharz earned more than $600,000 in 2011 to serve as president emeritus, a part-time advisory role, in addition to receiving $800,000 that year in his new job for a Cleveland philanthropy. More than 1,600 alumni, students, and others with ties to Brandeis recently signed a petition protesting Reinharz’s pay, while faculty representatives called on the board to revamp its pay practices.
In response to the controversy, the board of trustees approved a new slate of policies announced Thursday, including promises to include a faculty representative on the committee that sets executive pay and to consider public appearances and fairness in setting executive pay. The board also pledged to promptly disclose presidential pay to faculty, instead of waiting to report the numbers on tax filings that are typically not available until long after the payments are made.
Eric Chasalow, the head of the Brandeis Faculty Senate, noted that $4.9 million was disclosed in pieces over many years, but said “the accumulated amount is a very bitter pill for the faculty to swallow.”
He said he hoped the changes — which were developed after hearing from professors, students, and alumni — will help avoid similar controversies over generous pay packages in the future.
“There will be true transparency in the process of determining compensation,” Chasalow said.
Though many other US colleges have come under fire for rising presidential pay, the issue has been particularly resonant at Brandeis, because the school has long claimed social justice as one of its core values. Reinharz’s pay also came at a time of rising tuition and as the university was facing steep budget cuts that forced it to slash employee benefits, lay off staff members, and even explore the idea of shutting down a beloved campus museum.
The lump sum payment to Reinharz is in addition to the money he has already received as president emeritus since he stepped down at the end of 2010. Since 2012, Reinharz has received $287,500 a year in salary as a part-time president emeritus and professor, but that will fall to $180,000 a year starting in July. The university also revealed Thursday it has agreed to let him keep that $180,000 a year salary through 2024, when Reinharz will be 79.
In total, Reinharz is expected to collect roughly $8 million from Brandeis after stepping down as president, including the $4.1 million earned in deferred compensation during his presidency and paid out later.
Reinharz, the school’s second longest president, served as Brandeis president from 1994 to 2010. During the latter years of his presidency, he was one of the highest paid university leaders in the nation. He ranked number 11 in 2009, when he earned $1.5 million, including deferred compensation, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Past board members have pointed out that Reinharz also made a substantial contributions to the university during his tenure, raising $1.2 billion and overseeing the transformation of the university campus with the construction or renovation of 29 buildings. And the school said he remains a key adviser and fund-raiser in his role as president emeritus.
Reinharz’s successor, who had previously been silent on the pay controversy, weighed in for the first time to praise the new compensation policies.
“I welcome the thoughtful approach taken by our board,” said Lawrence, the Brandeis president. “Our intention is that these changes will put Brandeis on the leading edge in terms of governance best practices.”
Sahar Massachi, 24, one of the Brandeis graduates who started the petition, said he was stunned by the amounts being paid to Reinharz.
“I can’t even process it,” Massachi said. “It’s such a big number. It’s so staggeringly large.”
Massachi said the policies are an improvement, but he wished the board had taken tougher steps — such as capping presidential pay — and acted sooner.
“I am glad they did it, but I am sorry that it had to take a scandal to make these changes happen,” Massachi said.