Making Sense of YU’s Finances

The Chronicle of Higher Education released its financial report of universities, focusing on compensation packages for university presidents. In this data collected from tax records, The Chronicle found that no fewer than 30 presidents of private universities earned over $1m in total compensation for the 2008-9 fiscal year. In a public article the Chronicle reports that the highest salary went to the late Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander, though due to unusual circumstances:

Nearly four decades after Bernard Lander founded Touro College with a class of 35 students, the trustees decided that he had been underpaid during his tenure as president. To make up for the difference, they awarded him more than $4-million in deferred compensation in 2008.

Mr. Lander, who died in February at age 94, received a total compensation package of $4,786,830, making him the highest-earning private-college president, according to The Chronicle’s review of federal tax documents from the 2008-9 fiscal year. The review, which included 448 chief executives, found 30 private college leaders who received more than $1-million in total compensation. In the previous year’s report, 23 chief executives earned over $1-million. [Emphasis added]

Aside from Lander’s compensation numbers, the other point of interest is the financial state of Yeshiva University. According to The Chronicle’s numbers (available upon registration):

Institution2008-9 Institution revenues2008-9 Institution ExpendituresEmployee2008-9 Total compensation package
RU/VHYeshiva University$541,179,646$722,192,458Richard M. Joel



First note the “Carnegie classification” field in the table. According to The Chronicle YU’s designation is as follows:

Research Universities
Included among these institutions are those that award at least 20 doctoral degrees per year (excluding doctoral-level degrees that allow recipients to enter professional practice, such as the J.D. or M.D.). Research institutions, which are differentiated based on an explicit measure of their amount of research activity, are divided into three categories: Research universities (very high research activity); Research universities (high research activity); and Doctoral/Research universities.

The Chronicle considers YU to be a “Research University” of “Very High Research Activity.” Thus it is important to consider how YU compares to other institutions in this class, regardless of the accuracy of this designation (i.e. stop laughing).

Furthermore, in the 2008-9 fiscal year, YU ran a deficit of $181,012,812. This number may be misleading due to the Madoff scandal in that funding which was supposed to have come from now depleted endowments would have to be charged directly against revenues.

Finally in considering President Richard Joel’s $1,211,429 compensation (apologies if the number got cut off in the table), it is important to consider the entire package of benefits. In President Joel’s case this would likely include housing, driver, health insurance (non-trivial expense) and other perks which might have previously not been included in the total value.

Also consider how other universities fared during this same year:

InstitutionRevenueExpendituresTotal NetPresident’s Compensation<
Brandeis University$289,873,136$338,603,908-$48,730,772$830,643
Columbia University$3,088,224,119$3,285,962,702-$197,738,583$1,753,984
Duke University$1,634,274,136$2,294,516,114-$660,241,978$824,755
Harvard University-$2,524,933,646 [sic]1$3,991,293,191-$6,516,226,837$822,011
New York University$2,970,318,554$3,142,484,709-$172,166,155$1,366,878
Princeton University$2,396,611,800$1,325,636,000$1,070,975,800$881,151
Stanford University$2,231,172,246$3,394,846,813-$1,163,674,567$1,091,589
University of Chicago$1,680,383,914$2,032,554,291-$352,170,377$1,162,213
Yale University$2,687,725,962$2,801,521,857-$113,795,895$1,530,008

In making such comparisons, keep in mind the following

  1. Compensation packages are usually contractually defined in advance and not a percentage of a university’s profits.
  2. Responsibilities of the position will vary based on institution, compensation may vary accordingly.
  3. The resources of each university also vary greatly, some presidents have more to work with than others.

1. I don’t know why they listed Harvard as having negative revenues, but I’m just copying/pasting what I found.

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