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September 23, 2018

Executive Compensation at Columbia (2016)

by Anne Paddock

People often joke about the low compensation in academia but many individuals working for non-profit educational institutions (i.e. colleges and universities) receive very high compensation packages. Although the most highly compensated tend to be investment managers for the endowment, presidents, provosts, department chairs, professors, and fundraisers, the overall average compensation package is often nothing to make light of.

At Columbia University (Columbia) – a private, Ivy-League educational and research university on the Upper West Side in New York City (although there are six campuses, five in New York and one in Paris), 34,437 employees were compensated $2.6 billion (or an average of $76,000 each) in the school year beginning July 1, 2015 and ending June 30, 2016. 4,928 individuals received more than $100,000 in total compensation.

The 20 most highly compensated individuals were compensated $41.5 million (an average of $2.1 million each):

  • $6,863,266:  Peter Holland, EVP Investment Management
  • $5,991,697:  Nirmal Narvekar, Investment Management (through 11/16/15 – 5-1/2 months)
  • $4,742,437:  Lee Goldman, EVP Health Sciences
  • $4,476546:  David N Silvers, Medical Professor
  • $3,516,752:  Timothy M Donahue, Managing Director IMC
  • $2,535,837:  Lee Bollinger, President
  • $2,357,263:  Jeffrey W Moses, Professor of Medicine
  • $2,209,191:  Craig R Smith, Professor of Surgery
  • $2,054,610:  Gregg Stone, Professor of Surgery
  • $  799,847:  Kenneth A Forde, Trustee (4 hours per week)
  • $  785,204:  John Coatsworth, Provost
  • $  707,588:  Amelia Alverson, EVP University Development/Alumni Relations
  • $  698,393:  Anne R Sullivan, EVP Finance and IT
  • $  664,295:  Jane E Booth, General Counsel
  • $  643,571:  David Madigan, EVP Arts and Sciences
  • $  636,596:  Joseph A Ienuso, EVP Facilities (through 8/30/15: 3 months)
  • $  493,527:  Robert Kasdin, EVP (through 6/30/15: 1 month)
  • $  432,134:  Jerome Davis, Secretary
  • $  426,435:  David Greensberg, EVP Facilities (beginning 8/1/15: 9 months)
  • $  424,620:  Susan K Feagin, University Development and Alumni (former)

Of the 20 most highly compensated individuals, 16 were men (or 80%) while 4 were women (or 20%).  Of the 10 most highly compensated individuals, all were men. In a list where the average compensation was $2.1 million, the most highly compensated female received just over $700,000 for her work in University Development and Alumni Relations.

As illustrated above, several employees listed were former employees, many of whom received between $426,000 and nearly $6 million for 1-9 months of service.  One individual – a trustee – received nearly $800,000 for an average of 4 hours of work per week.

The IRS Form 990 also reports Columbia paying for first class or charter travel, travel for companions, personal services (i.e. maid, chauffeur, chef), housing allowance or residence for personal use, and tax indemnification and gross up payments.  First class travel is justified “when it is a reasonable expense to support the mission of the university” although reasonable is not defined.  Note:  See Schedule J, Part III for a fuller explanation of these expenses.

Other important pieces of information about Columbia include:

Considered one of the best universities in the country, Columbia charges approximately $70,000 annually for tuition, room, and board.

Approximately 40,000 students apply to Columbia annually with 2,300 admitted (or 6%).  Of that 2,300, 1,400 enroll annually.

The total undergraduate population is about 9,000 but graduate students, medical school, and professional studies programs bring the total student population to about 33,000.

Total revenue (for the year ending June 30, 2016) was $4.7 billion, which primarily came from:

  • Tuition and Fees ($1.4 billion)
  • Contributions ($1.4 billion including $800 million from the government)
  • Patient Care ($1.1 billion)
  • Education Research, Auxiliary and Other Income ($360 million)
  • Gain on the Sale of Assets ($330 million)
  • Investment, Partnerships, Real Estate, and Royalty Income ($110 million)

Total expenses were $4.2 billion (not including $200 million in depreciation), of which nearly $500 million were in grants to 26,000 students (an average of about $20,000 each) and other assistance to individuals.

Net assets were $13.2 billion (at the end of the year ending June 30, 2016), most of which was in investments, cash, and real estate. $3 billion is permanently restricted.

To read the IRS Form 990 for the year ending June 30, 2016, click here.

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