Board defends decision to raise Gitenstein’s salary

College President R. Barbara Gitenstein received a salary increase of seven percent in December, bringing her annual compensation to $251,450. The Board of Trustees gave her the raise for achieving the objectives it had set for her, such as fundraising, and to show its appreciation for her leadership.

The Board of Trustees is required to set specific expectations and goals for the president “directly related to the success of the institution,” Gitenstein said. “The board members then evaluate my performance against these goals each year and make a determination regarding any salary increase.”

“When the Board of Trustees conducted its annual review of President Gitenstein’s performance, it was agreed that she had not only achieved the objectives (the board) set forth, but had surpassed them,” Christopher R. Gibson, Board of Trustees member, said. “Therefore, we recommended an increase that was moderate but demonstrated our appreciation of the leadership she has provided.”

The board asked Gitenstein to focus on approximately seven things over the course of the year, such as increasing fundraising and hiring someone to oversee construction, Gibson said. The board viewed the hiring of Curt Heuring in November 2004 as vice president of Facilities Management, Construction and Campus Safety as “very positive,” he said.

At the Oct. 18 board meeting, Gitenstein noted the success in alumni contributions. Alumni have donated 28 percent more than last year, and total dollar contributions are up 335 percent.

The board was also impressed with the College’s categorization as one of the 75 “Most Competitive” colleges in the 2005 edition of Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges, Gibson said.

The Board of Trustees is comprised of lay members who have been residents of the state or are out-of-state alumni. Previous boards suggest board members to the New Jersey governor, who then appoints them with the advice and consent of the State Senate. The College president serves as a non-voting member of the board, along with two student trustees, one of whom has voting rights.

“(The College) has accomplished a great deal under the guidance of Dr. Gitenstein,” Gibson said. “When compared with those increases offered presidents at similarly regarded institutions, her compensation package is certainly modest.”

When the board determined that Gitenstein would receive a raise, she requested that the increases be moderate, Matt Golden, director of Communications and Media Relations, said. In terms of percentage growth, Gitenstein’s salary has grown at a slower pace than the salaries of many faculty members, he said.

Gitenstein’s salary was $160,000 when she was hired as president of the College in 1999, Golden added.

Presidents of state colleges tend to earn less than those of private institutions, but their compensation is rising because of market pressure and competition, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on Nov. 18.

“The role of president at many public universities has become more difficult over the years, with intensified fund-raising demands, clashes with state lawmakers over appropriations and increasingly attentive and involved governing boards,” The Chronicle reported.

Serving as chief executive of a large public institution is a full-time job, Gibson said. “You kind of live and breathe it all the time.”

The median pay for a public university president is $360,000, according to The Chronicle. The median for presidents of master’s colleges and liberal arts schools is between $200,000 and $250,000, Golden said.

“All salaries for regular employees of the College come from the general fund, which includes state appropriation, state allocation for the salary program increases, tuition and fee income and any other resources not specifically designated for a purpose,” Gitenstein said. “Unlike other institutions, there are no foundation dollars used to supplement any salary on the campus.”

According to a survey by The Chronicle, there are 23 public university presidents earning more than $500,000. Last year there were 17. Fifty-three presidents will receive at least $400,000, up from 43 last year.

The president of Rutgers University, Richard L. McCormick, receives an annual salary of $525,000, the campus newspaper, The Daily Targum, reported.

Some are disturbed by the trend toward higher salaries. The American Association of University Professors said that the increases are “a further indication that a more corporate organizational hierarchy is emerging in colleges and universities, in potential conflict with the mission of institutions of higher education to operate for the benefit of society as a whole,” The Chronicle reported.

The Chronicle quoted Roger W. Bowen, general secretary of the association, as saying, “Should the president of any university be paid more than the president of the United States?” The U.S. president’s annual salary is $400,000.

Five private college presidents earn over $1 million a year. The president of Boston University, for example, makes $1,253,352 in salary and benefits. In many cases, the larger presidential salaries are paid in part by private donations.

“I feel strongly that at this particular point in the College’s history, we should be raising money for student scholarships, student financial aid, support for faculty scholarship/research, enhancement of academic programs and capital projects tied directly to the mission,” Gitenstein wrote in an e-mail. “I would hope that in the near future we would be raising private dollars for endowing professorships and lectureships, but NOT for enhancements of salaries for either the president or any vice president.”

“I am comfortable saying that I am very proud of the progress of (the College) over the last seven years and am pleased that I have been an important part of accomplishing that progress,” Gitenstein added.

Gitenstein came to the College in 1999 from Drake University, a private institution in Des Moines, Iowa, where she served as provost and executive vice president. She has more than 25 years of experience as a college professor and administrator in the public and private sectors.