At $864,319, the average pay package given by the University to 10 of Yale’s top administrators has sparked conversation on campus.
The salaries of these administrators, including the University president, vice presidents and provost, were made public through Yale’s Form 990, which is filed with the Internal Revenue Service annually as part of the University’s tax exempt status. Linda Lorimer, the vice president for global and strategic initiatives, and Dorothy Robinson, the University’s general counsel, took home $1,748,767 and $1,666,175 in 2012, respectively — figures higher than the average as both administrators received supplemental retirement packages.
While these were the salaries that attracted the most attention, several students and faculty interviewed expressed criticism on the size of supplemental compensation packages for multiple high-level administrators. Four out of nine faculty interviewed said that while they praise Lorimer and Robinson for their hard work, the average pay for administrators suggests a shift toward corporatization at Yale.
“The problem is not whether, in the abstract, [Lorimer] deserves such a handout, but rather its discrepancy with academic salaries. And that signals the increasing shift at Yale and most other universities toward corporate models of management,” theater studies professor Murray Briggs said.
According to an Association of American University Presses report on Yale and institutions comparable to it, the average salary for a Yale professor in 2013-14 was $192,200, which is 7.8 percent lower than Harvard’s for the same year. The average salary for a Yale associate professor is $118,300, while for an assistant professor it is $95,900.
Sociology professor Ronald Eyerman said he thinks the pay packages had dangerous implications for the future of education.
“I’m embarrassed to think of education as an ‘industry’ and a university as a ‘corporation’,” said sociology professor Ronald Eyerman.
Branford Master Elizabeth Bradley, meanwhile, said that the University needs to at least be in the “mid-range” of other competing universities and employers to attract and retain the top talent.
Speaking of Lorimer and Robinson, Bradley noted that “both women have made enormous contributions to Yale over three decades, and seeing this in the context of their whole careers and gifts to Yale would be important.”
Penelope Laurans, a special assistant to the University president and the master of Jonathan Edwards College, said Lorimer and Robinson devoted themselves “heart and soul, round the clock,” to the toughest leadership assignments.
Yale is not the only University to provide its administrators with high salaries. Further, School of Management Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld said he was amazed at how administrators at other elite schools have used their positions to acquire wealth.
Computer science professor David Gelernter said he understands why Yale needs to pay “absurd” salaries to retain the talent necessary to run the University. Gelernter added that in an ideal world faculty would be paid more, but that most of them are passionate about what they do and loyal to the institution regardless.
“Yale has been good to me, from the very start. I’m grateful and I love this place. I wish they paid a living wage — but you can’t have everything,” Gelernter said.
School of Public Health Dean Paul Cleary said Yale does not offer supplemental compensation to its administrators on an annual basis. Instead, additional compensation is given as an incentivizing tool for the most talented administrators to stay at Yale, he added, and as supplemental retirement benefits — as was the case with Lorimer and Robinson.
“Usually, if you separate it out, their compensation is not oversized, they’re not getting this on an annualized basis — this was a lump sum,” Sonnenfeld said.
Cleary added salary levels were determined after careful analyses of comparable salaries at other institutions.
Four out of eight students interviewed said they are displeased with how Yale currently allocates funds, but also were not overtly critical of the pay packages given to Lorimer and Robinson.
Wendell Adjety ’18 said Yale should relocate some of its funds toward professors and away from administrators. He added that he would like to see professors in the humanities and social sciences paid more competitively.
Lina Xing ’17 also said she thinks the discrepancies between administration and faculty salaries and pay packages at Yale should not be so large. But Xing added it makes sense for administrators with greater responsibility to receive a higher pay.
The pay packages of 22 Yale faculty and administrators were listed in Yale’s Form 990, which was filed with the Internal Revenue Service in 2012.
Correction, Nov. 7: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Branford College Master Elizabeth Bradley said a majority of the faculty feel administrators deserve high pay packages, in fact, Bradley said that she thinks Yale has to set compensations to be in the mid-range of other competing universities and like employers to be able to attract and retain the most competent administrators, staff, and faculty.