Home » Burlington Free Press » Formula for topping the pay charts at the University of Vermont—Burlington Free Press—08/05/2012

Formula for topping the pay charts at the University of Vermont—Burlington Free Press—08/05/2012



Senior UVM administrators highly paid when they assume faculty roles

Tim Johnson, Free Press staff. Original article: August 5, 2012.

When Dan Fogel stepped down as president of the University of Vermont last summer, his transition package — including 17 months of prorated paid leave at his presidential salary of $322,563 — received plenty of public attention. So did UVM’s disclosure of the salary he would receive as tenured professor of English when he joins the faculty in January 2013 — $195,000 a year. That’s about $76,000 more than the next-highest-paid professor in the English Department gets.

Fogel is not alone. A number of former UVM administrators who have assumed faculty positions are paid more — in some cases, considerably more — than any of their departmental colleagues. Other examples:

• Eleanor Miller, former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, now a professor of sociology, has a faculty salary of $172,651, about $48,000 more than the next-highest-paid professor in that department.

• Jill Tarule, former dean and former associate provost, earns $159,863 as a professor in the College of Education and Social Services, about $41,000 more than the next- highest-paid professor in the college.

• John M. Hughes, former provost, earns $148,530 as professor of geology, about $30,000 more than his next-highest-paid colleague.

• Betty Rambur, former dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, earns $159,740, about $25,000 more than the next-highest-paid nursing faculty member.

• Lawrence Forcier, former dean and former special adviser to the president, earns $141,213 as an associate professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, about $11,000 more than the highest-paid professor in the school.

• Rachel K. Johnson, former dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and former associate provost, has a salary of $146,184 as a professor in the Nutrition and Food Science Department, about $10,000 more than her highest-paid departmental colleague. (In 2011, Johnson was named Bickford Green and Gold Professor, the first endowed professorship in the college.)

• John N. Evans, who stepped down as dean of the College of Medicine in 2007, has a salary of $302,492. According to UVM, he serves as senior advisor to the president (50 percent) and as full professor in molecular physiology and biophysics (50 percent). At half the total, Evans’ faculty salary is about $4,600 more than the comparable, prorated salary of the highest-paid faculty member in the Molecular Physiology and Biophysics Department.

There are exceptions. Neither Frances Carr, former vice president for research and now a professor of pharmacology, nor E. Lauck Parke, former vice provost and now associate professor in the School of Business Administration, is highest-paid among their colleagues of the same rank.

Retreat salaries for sitting executives

Several current administrators who were initially hired into executive positions have secondary faculty appointments with base salaries already set — salaries that are the highest in their respective departments. Those salaries are known as “retreat” salaries — the base pay rates these executives are eligible to receive when they step down from the administration to assume faculty duties. Retreat salaries are pegged to a certain fiscal year and rise in subsequent years at rates in keeping with the faculty union’s collective bargaining agreements.

• Domenico Grasso, now vice president for research and dean of the graduate college, arrived at UVM in 2005 as dean of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at a salary of $200,000. His retreat salary as an engineering professor was set at $171,800, higher than other faculty salaries in the college at that time and higher than that of the dean who preceded him. With collective bargaining agreement adjustments, his retreat salary this year could amount to $222,176, nearly $32,000 above that of the highest-paid professor in the college. (Excluding contractually allowed “performance” raises that totaled 7 percent between 2005 and 2013, UVM faculty salaries increased up to 13.25 percent from 2005 to 2008, up to 12 percent from 2008 to 2011, and 1 percent from 2011 to 2013.)

• E. Thomas Sullivan, who took office as UVM president this month at a salary of $417,000, has a secondary appointment in the Political Science Department. Sullivan, a former provost at the University of Minnesota, was a tenured law professor there at a faculty salary of $340,000. UVM doesn’t have a law school. Sullivan’s UVM retreat salary was set at $170,000,more than $44,000 above what the next-highest-paid professor in the department receives. That salary is based on the 2010-11 national median salary for full professors of legal professions and studies, according to a memo to Sullivan from Rob Cioffi, chairman of the UVM Board of Trustees.

• Sanjay Sharma was named dean of the School of Business Administration last year at a salary of $320,000. His retreat salary was then set at $199,875. His 2012-13 retreat salary, after the minimal collective bargaining adjustment, would be more than $17,000 above that of the highest-paid professor in the school, who happens to be the dean he succeeded.

These comparatively high retreat salaries echo the administrative salaries these executives received when they began work at UVM. As incoming dean, Grasso earned about 31 percent more than his predecessor. Sullivan, as president, makes about 29 percent more in salary than Fogel received during his last year as chief executive. Sharma’s salary as dean is about 43 percent higher than that of the dean he succeeded.

UVM also fills some senior administrative posts from within. Most faculty members appointed to these jobs move from nine-month to 12-month positions, and their pay as administrators increases commensurately with the additional time and responsibility. The size of the increase varies by academic unit. A faculty member named associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences might see a pay increase of 25 percent. For an associate provost, the pay hike might be about one-third.

Why the disparity?

The reasons for these faculty pay disparities vary. In some cases, executives and former executives contend, their higher faculty pay reflects their scholarly credentials, achievements and market value.

UVM also has a longstanding policy of rewarding executives-turned-professors for their administrative experience.

In Fogel’s case, a retreat salary of $105,600 in 2002-03 — about $27,000 more than the next- highest-paid professor’s salary in the English Department at that time — included a 10 percent premium for “significant scholarly activity” and another 10 percent for “administrative experience,” according to his appointment letter signed by then-interim provost John Bramley. This “administrative conversion of 20 percent,” Bramley wrote, “is the same methodology that has been employed to establish academic salaries for administrators in recent years.”

Nine years later, when Fogel prepared to step down and his post-presidential faculty salary was being set by the board, the 20 percent guideline was invoked again, according to Enrique Corredera, university spokesman, who was asked how the $195,000 figure was arrived at.

“But this was not a strict formulaic calculation,” he wrote of the 20 percent premium. “As is the case at peer institutions the Board arrived at a final figure that also recognizes the value of his contributions to the institution during his 9-year tenure as president, and in the end the salary was negotiated as part of Dan’s arrangements to step down as President.”

UVM’s past practice

The practice of rewarding former executives for their administrative experience has rankled some UVM faculty members over the years.

“I have publicly stated that prior administrative experience should not be a consideration in determining the salary for a faculty job involving teaching and research,” said David Shiman, president of United Academics, the faculty union, in an email. He noted that in bargaining for the current contract, the union negotiated removal of language in the previous agreement that permitted the provost to raise the salary of an administrator returning to the faculty “in recognition of the individual’s experience as an administrator.” The contract gives the provost latitude to raise the salary for some factors, but not explicitly for administrative experience.

There was no reference to this contractual change in a memo presented to trustees for review in May. The memo was part of a presentation on executive compensation by then-interim President John Bramley. It was titled “Steps in Establishing a Faculty Salary for Individuals Initially Hired Into an Administrative Position,” and it referred to two possible supplements of up to 10 percent for administrative experience — first, when the retreat salary is set, and second, when the administrator actually moves into the faculty position.

“The executive compensation materials should have referenced this provision in the new faculty contract,” Corredera said in an email. “That was an oversight, and it will be corrected. However, not all faculty members are covered by the contract so the language does apply to non-represented faculty.”

Before he left his position as interim president, Bramley was asked the rationale for basing a former executive’s faculty salary partly on administrative experience. He said that such academics tend to be high achievers and positioned to make significant contributions to the university.

“These folks are high-flying people,” he said.

Explaining the rationale on behalf of the UVM administration (see box on Page 7A), Corredera said that recognizing administrative experience has not only been part of UVM’s “compensation philosophy,” it is a “widely used higher education practice.”

What the employees say

Each UVM employee mentioned in this story was contacted and offered an opportunity to comment about the pay disparities and about UVM’s compensation policy.

On their comparatively high pay, Fogel, Grasso and Sharma all said that their faculty salaries were justified on the basis of scholarly accomplishment.

Fogel supplied an annotated CV and cited books written and awards won over a career as full professor that has spanned nearly 28 years. He noted that retreat salaries for presidents and chancelors can be “very substantial” in the national market. Therefore, he said, his salary resulted from “a convergence of two factors, academic attainments and the administrative market. My sense is that those elements are closely intertwined with the highly competitive nature of higher education.”

Grasso, after acknowledging he was somewhat uncomfortable discussing salary, said he believes his retreat salary was based not on his administrative experience but on “my capabilities as a scholar and teacher.”

“I have had the good fortune of having had a very successful career as a faculty member,” he wrote in an email. He noted that many of his graduate student advisees have gone on “to faculty positions at major universities (a common indicator of quality).”

“Based on my expertise as a scholar, I served as vice chair of the EPA Science Advisory Board advising the head of the EPA as well as many other advisory and review boards,” Grasso wrote. “My work has been cited over 1,600 times.”

Sharma, who was dean at the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University in Montreal before he came to UVM, suggested that his retreat salary was on the low side.

“My base salary at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada in 2006 was $170,000,” he wrote in an email. “I was the Canada Research Chair in Organizational Sustainability. This is 6 years later. If I was not to take on an administrative position, as one of the world’s leading scholars in corporate sustainability I would be an attractive candidate for a chaired position in a leading business school. When I was the dean of the John Molson School of Business, I hired a chaired professor in sustainability at a salary of $250,000 a year in 2009. Therefore, my faculty retreat salary is lower than it would be based on my scholarship and teaching credentials.”

Forcier, of the Rubenstein School, said he came to UVM from a tenured position at another institution and is now in his 43rd year at UVM. About two-thirds of his time at UVM has been focused on academic administration, but he said he loves teaching, and that he teaches about 50 percent more credit hours than the average faculty member.

He said his administrative background helps with his teaching.

“I still often draw upon academic and practical knowledge gained from my administrative experience as well as professional contacts when designing courses, teaching, advising undergraduate and graduate students, and writing grants,” Forcier wrote in an email. “That knowledge and experience helps me be an effective teacher.”

Fogel offered a robust argument for the relevance of administrative experience in setting a faculty salary.

“When seriously engaged scholars and teachers take on 24/7 high-stress administrative work for the commonweal, they are giving up a great deal, professionally and also personally,” he wrote. “And yet highly accomplished academics with leadership qualities are best suited for senior administrative positions. These facts naturally raise expectations for compensation in lieu of the sacrifices such individuals incur. They are in the best position to negotiate in a competitive market that values their contribution. … (E)verybody values that combination of academic distinction and leadership. And you can’t separate them. They are both relevant.

“I’d also observe, with respect to administrators resuming faculty appointments, that the work of the faculty is not all teaching and scholarship. Ask anyone on the tenure-track, and I’m sure they’ll agree. A great deal of faculty work is service — departmental, college, university, and public service — and much of that is in essence administrative. A seasoned administrator returning to the faculty should have much to offer departmental colleagues, simply in savvy, know-how, and accrued wisdom.”

No comment

John Evans, whose position is listed as half professor/half senior adviser to the president, did not reply to the Free Press email query, which asked what teaching and research he does in his capacity as professor of physiology. As of late July, he was not listed among the faculty in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics.

The query also asked Evans to provide a brief justification of his salary. According to UVM, his current salary of $302,492, unchanged since October 2010. Half is paid by the College of Medicine and half by the UVM administration, reflecting Evans’ dual role. Most of his duties are administrative, a UVM spokesman said.

An April 17, 2006, letter to Evans from then-provost John Bramley set the terms of Evans’ post-dean employment at UVM. As full professor in the College of Medicine, he would receive a total salary of $265,508. The letter stipulates that “Your salary will not be reduced during the balance of your career at the University except under extraordinary circumstances.”

Reached by phone, Evans said he had received the email query and had no comment.

“I’m not interested in having a discussion about it,” he said.

Carole L. Whitaker, assistant dean for communications in the College of Medicine, was then asked by email to describe what teaching and research Evans has done since 2007 in his capacity as professor. A day later she provided a response that was prepared, she said, after conferring with Evans and Tom Gustafson, UVM’s vice president for university relations and campus life.

The response included an unsolicited summary of Evans’ career at the College of Medicine ( “36 years at the College that included 14 years as Executive Dean, Interim Dean and Dean”) and a detailed description of his role as senior advisor.

In that role, Whitaker wrote, Evans “has responsibility for fostering the commercialization of intellectual property and building relationships with the private sector, both of which are critically important for the College of Medicine as well as the University.” Among his other responsibilities, she wrote, are serving as president of the Vermont Technology Council, leading an internship program that he created under the council’s auspices, and chairing the statewide board for the Vermont EPsCOR program. She also wrote that he “provides leadership” for the UVM Office of Technology Commercialization and for “the UVM relationship with Sandia National Laboratories,” and that he serves on the board of the Center for Energy Transformation and Innovation lab, part of the Sandia collaboration.

According to UVM’s online catalogue, Evans received a Ph.D. at the University of Florida in 1976 and his initial faculty appointment at UVM that same year.

Asked why Evans was missing from the department website,Whitaker said the college is engaged in a “major website migration project” and that the physiology department had not yet been updated. “This has been corrected,” she wrote.

As for teaching, she said: “Dr. Evans gives a series of lectures in the Vermont Integrated Curriculum during the first year medical course Human Structure and Function, which he has done since 1976.”

As for research, Whitaker cited “a distinguished career as a researcher prior to his assuming major leadership roles at UVM.” His specialty was pulmonary disease, she said, for which his work was internationally recognized. She acknowledged that Evans has not had a funded research project in the last five years.


Baruch Zeichner · Producer/Host at WBKM
No wonder Vermonters can’t afford UVM without going into a lifetime of debt. Time to reorganize UVM. The current trustees should all go. They have made it clear that their agenda is to turn UVM into a school for the wealthy, rather than a school for regular Vermonters. Time for UVM to be reclaimed by the regular working people of this state, for their kids. 

I invite any of those mentioned in the article, and any other UVM faculty or administration whose pay is disproportionately high, to donate $30 – $50 k to scholarships for Vermonters to attend UVM. That would be the right thing to do…unless greed supersedes commitment to education, in which case you should just resign. We need educators whose priority is education, not satisfying their greed.

Julie Bushey Trevor · UVM – University of Vermont
The average Vermonter makes about $45,000/yr. Is a UVM President or faculty member really worth 3 to 8 times what the average Vermonter makes?

Kelly Lathrop
guess I’m not average then…

Lisa J Verge · Oxford, Maine
Yup guess my husband and I are below average too

Tom Trevor
Yes of course the are. It is the greedy doctors and nurses who aren’t worth what they are paid, all doctors and nurses do is save people’s lives. 🙂

Robert L. Bingham
I’m glad my last two doctors were well paid -at least while they worked on me…I should have tipped them I was so pleased -wasn’t sure it was proper tho ???

Josh Pallotta · Infantry at Vermont Army National Guard
this article has nothing to do with doctors and nurses…uvm admin and faculty

Dan King
Forgive me but what is the purpose of posting these salaries? They’re not public officials and the school in general gets very little assistance from the state. Must be BFP’s follow on from the VSP salary article to keep the controversy flames alive.

It is about selling papers after all.

Judith McLaughlin · Currently with Walden University
I googled “famous alumni of University of Vermont” and all I found was Ben Affleck (left after one semester) and Brian Dubie. Enough said. UVM believes it can become an Ivy League school by attracting high paid faculty. Clearly it isn’t working.

Then I googled “what is the University of Vermont known for.” The Princeton Review states “The University of Vermont has been chosen as one of the nation’s best colleges at fostering social responsibility and public service by The Princeton Review and Campus Compact. UVM is featured along with other distinguished and service-minded institutions across the country in The Princeton Review’s “Colleges with a Conscience: 81 Great Schools with Outstanding Community Involvement.”

The Huffington Post says “”Students at UVM are unanimous in their love of their school, the town, and the state of Vermont,” noting also that UVM ” has one of the most breath-taking backdrops of any college.”

So, Vermonters who want to send their child to UVM can be assured that for approximately 27K a year…your kids will have a sense of “community involvement”.

Personally, for 26K a year…I want more for my hard earned dollar.

Ed Green · Underhill, Vermont
I would be interested in the cost benefit equation. If Fogel gets paid $76K more than the next highest paid faculty member, does the student get that much more education? I think it is pure human nature for UVM to justify the high level of pay. And just because other colleges are price gouging our students doesn’t make it right