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May 23, 2018

Executive Compensation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

by Anne Paddock

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is a private non-profit 501 (c) (3) college that specializes in engineering, technology, and the sciences. Located on 300 acres in Troy, New York, RPI also has two campuses in Connecticut – in Hartford and Groton. But, what also makes this institute well-known is its inclusion on lists of most highly compensated employees.

About 7,500 students (mostly undergraduate) attend RPI where annual tuition is about $50,000 plus about $17,000 for room and board bringing the total annual cost to $67,000. However, 5,172 recipients received $122 million in tuition discounts (an average of $24,000) while 919 teaching assistants at the graduate level received $35 million in tuition discounts  (an average of $38,000 each). Of the total revenue received in 2016 ($538 million), $166 million (or 31% of revenue) was used for tuition discounts. Total expenses were $490 million (not including depreciation) which means expenses did not exceed revenue. RPI had $364 million in net fund assets at year-end.

RPI reported a total of 5,261 employees in 2016 at a total compensation cost of $195 million which equates to an average of $37,000 each (compared to Harvard who has an average compensation of $58,000). However, 354 individuals received more than $100,000 in compensation with the 17 most highly compensated listed below:

  • $2,138,308:  Shirley Ann Jackson, President
  • $  925,428:  Curtis N Powell, VP
  • $  480,725:  Prabhat Hajela, Provost
  • $  477,092:  Virginia C Gregg, VP
  • $  461,537:  Thomas Begley, Dean, Lally School
  • $  461,327:  John K Kolb, VP
  • $  457,554:  Jonathan Dordick, VP
  • $  439,910:  Graig East, VP
  • $  390,362:  Francine Berman, Professor
  • $  389,783:  Bruce Watson, Professor
  • $  375,041:  Shekar Garde, Dean, School of Engineering
  • $  369,009:  Bill Francis, Professor
  • $  367,581:  Charles Carlotta, Secretary
  • $  363,600:  Robert Linhardt, Professor
  • $  344,178:  Claude Rounds, VP
  • $  189,771:  Frank Ross, VP
  • $  162,561:  David Broad, VP

The 17 individuals listed above were compensated a total of $8.8 million.  14 of the most highly compensated individuals are men (82%) while 3 are women (18%).

The most highly compensated individual was a woman, Shirley Ann Jackson who received $2.1 million in compensation (compared to $1.9 million to the President of Harvard, Drew Gilpin Faust in 2016).

The President’s husband, Morris Washington received $241,340 in employee compensation in 2016 (although it is unclear why he was not on the list above). RPI pays for first class travel for the President and her companion although other executives may be approved for first class travel based on medical documentation. RPI also provides a residence for personal use or a housing allowance and pays for personal services. Although no detail is provided on the housing, usually certain staff of colleges are provided residences on campus and staff for events held at the residences.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2015 for the year beginning July 1, 2015 and ending June 30, 2016), click here.

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