Board approves policy changes
Last Thursday, the University announced in a BrandeisNOW press release that the Board of Trustees unanimously approved several changes to its executive compensation policies at its Jan. 22 meeting. Among the most significant changes were requirements for the University to release senior leadership compensation information promptly and allow for input. The press release also revealed that University President Emeritus Jehuda Reinharz received $4.1 million in deferred compensation and $811,000 in untaken sabbatical payments as of Jan. 2.
The changes came after members of the Brandeis community expressed strong concerns about Reinharz's "golden parachute" following a Nov. 18, 2013 Boston Globe article that publicized his fiscal year 2011 compensation and other benefits. The Justice first reported Reinharz's compensation in a Sept. 24 article.
One new stipulation in the policy is that the entire Board will be involved in setting and approving executive compensation to the president and other senior administrators. The Board must be provided with all information on base salary, deferred compensation, incentives, benefits, perks and other components of a president's contract prior to it being approved by the Board. There will also be an annual review of executive compensation by the Board.
Senior Representative to the Board of Trustees Jack Hait '14 said at Sunday's Student Union Senate meeting that the changes are a "major step forward." Hait reiterated that all members of the Board, including student representatives, will now be able to vote on presidential compensation. "Very few other universities have such a thing," Hait said. Exit packages will also be reported so that there will be no more "surprises," such as with Reinharz's deferred compensation.
"Overall we view these changes as tremendously positive from a student standpoint. The amount of access and transparency that the students have been granted is very encouraging," Hait wrote in an email to the Justice.
According to Faculty Senate Chair Prof. Eric Chasalow (MUS), the new policy states that practices will be reviewed every two years and revisions may be proposed. "That means that members of the community, and not just the [B]oard of Trustees may have an impact on policy because we are part of the conversation that will inform any revisions being considered," he wrote in an email to the Justice.
The University will now also have to disclose presidential compensation to faculty before legally required disclosure dates so that "the actual compensation packages of senior administrators will be open to scrutiny since they will now be made public without the previous multi-year delay," according to Chasalow.
These changes were based upon recommendations of an Ad Hoc Committee charged with reviewing the executive compensation policies. According to the release, the committee included several board members and a faculty representative, and was co-chaired by Trustees Lawrence Kanarek '76, and Adam Rifkin '97, the president of the Brandeis University Alumni Association. The committee considered input from faculty, alumni and other members of the Brandeis community, according to the release. In addition, the Faculty Senate and the student representatives provided proposals for the Board.
"Our new policies set very high standards," said Board Chair Perry M. Traquina '78 in a BrandeisNOW press release. "These governance changes turn a new page for the University and aim to make Brandeis a national leader in terms of best practices for executive compensation."
Chasalow wrote that the result was a "compromise," but that "there is now an open process with faculty and student representatives at the table.
"[T]he board was very responsive to our concerns throughout the process and it is important to note that everyone views this as an open discussion-that things can evolve over time in the best interest of the entire Brandeis community," Chasalow wrote.
In addition to approving the change in policy, in an effort to be more transparent, the Board of Trustees announced details of deferred compensation and sabbatical payments Reinharz earned. According to the release, these amounts were set aside in previous years' budgets and "will have no impact on the University's current finances."
Reinharz is part of a very small group of University presidents which are paid for sabbaticals, according to an April 5, 2006 Insider Higher Ed article. The article cited statistics compiled by the American Council on Education in 2001 that showed only 17 percent of all presidential contracts had provisions calling for sabbaticals. "[S]abbaticals in the middle of a president's term are relatively uncommon, and extremely rare outside a relatively small group of private liberal arts institutions," the article stated.
Reinharz's compensation came into the spotlight after a Globe article revealed that Reinharz has earned at least $1.2 million for part-time advisory work since stepping down as president at the end of 2010. The article led to outrage and concern among students and faculty. Nearly 1,700 alumni, students, faculty members and other people with ties to Brandeis signed a petition protesting Reinharz's pay.
In the Justice's efforts to contact Traquina for an interview, Senior Vice President for Communications Ellen de Graffenreid denied repeated requests and stated that Traquina would be able to comment "when we have substantive action by the Board of Trustees to share with you."
Editor's Note: As of press time, nearly 1,700 individuals had signed the petition protesting Reinharz's pay, not 1,600, as originally reported.