Alumni demand wage transparency
To the Editor:
Learning that former President Jehuda Reinharz is still making millions from Brandeis feels quite frankly insulting. Students struggle financially to access the University. Academic and service workers work more but are less secure. Many in our community are sacrificing, but very few seem to be reaping most of the benefits.
In 2009, Jehuda's administration forced drastic changes in the name of budgetary responsibility-increasing class sizes, laying off staff, thinning out departments and most infamously, trying to sell the treasures of the Rose Art Museum. Meanwhile, there are at least 17 officers on our payroll (including Jehuda) who made more than $200,000 last year.
Inequality is spreading throughout higher education. Many of our peer institutions face pressure to behave like corporations, and in doing so abandon their public mission. Brandeis has the opportunity to lead in reversing these trends.
During the crisis, students and faculty rose up and demanded greater transparency and power over budgeting. That was inspiring, and partially successful. Students now have a seat at the table on certain committees. Recent events have shown that those limited victories were not enough. We have two simple demands to get us back on track:
1) The Board of Trustees must institute a policy of transparency regarding past, current and future executive compensation. We should not have to learn about this from the front page of The Boston Globe.
2) The Board of Trustees must cap salaries at 15 times the compensation of the least-paid full-time employee. The cap will put our financial priorities in order and save money. If the lowest-paid worker is paid a living wage, the cap can be as high as $350,000, and we can instantly save $1.1 million annually.
There is nothing earth-shattering or impossible about these proposals. They are in line with our stated principles and appeal to common sense. In the few days since putting forth these demands, over 1200 alumni, faculty, staff and current students have urged the university to adopt them.
You can see the full text of our demands, and sign on to them too, at http://j.mp/brandeisPay.
The Board of Trustees needs to act decisively, and the campus community must hold them accountable. Real transparency and a cap on compensation would preserve our integrity and move us forward.
-Jonathan Sussman '11, Sahar Massachi '11 M.A. '12, Lev Hirschhorn '11, Mariel Gruszko '10
Reinharz accusations are unfounded
To the Editor:
The question is simple: is Jehuda Reinharz worth what we pay him? From the beginning of his presidency in 1994 to the end of his president emeritus status in 2014, Brandeis will have paid Dr. Reinharz somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million. During this period, he had raised $1.2 billion. Much of that sum would have been raised regardless of who was at the helm. The unanswerable question is: what fraction of that $1.2 billion was given by those who would not have otherwise donated to Brandeis, or would have given less than they eventually did, if not for the efforts of Dr. Reinharz? If that fraction is greater than 0.83 percent, then he is worth his salary.
Some Brandeis faculty members have argued that Dr. Reinharz's salary should be reduced, because it is unfair that he earns so much more than they do. That socialist argument has philosophical merit. Yet it would be foolhardy for Brandeis to cap the president's pay, because we would be unable to attract and retain the best talent, who would prefer to work for our higher-paying peer institutions.
Questioning authority is both healthy and intrinsic to the Brandeis character. At the same time, we the students should place some degree of trust in the judgment of the Board of Trustees. The Board is composed of 42 of Brandeis' most accomplished and respected alumni and donors-surely they possess more wisdom than we do and are best qualified to govern the University.
Finally, shame on The Boston Globe for lowering itself to the level of tawdry populist journalism. The article was ostensibly a news piece, not opinion, but was explicitly one-sided. Moreover, it consumed a tedious 2,018 words, but failed to muster any basic statistical calculations. Hopefully the next generation of journalists will be capable of doing math.
-Jonathan Epstein '14