On May 17, over 10 days after the publication of the story, “After saying her salary would freeze, President Collado’s compensation rose,” Ithaca College leadership reached out to The Ithacan, calling for a retraction of the story.
The reasons provided, as stated in a recent Intercom post from David H. Lissy ’87, chair of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees, was former President Shirley M. Collado did not receive a salary increase from the 2018–19 to the 2019–20 fiscal years, along with a “fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between a calendar year and a fiscal year, and how compensation is calculated in each.”
The Ithacan stands by its reporting. The Ithacan had its calculations regarding Collado’s monthly base compensation — which did take the difference in calendar year and fiscal year into account — verified by a lawyer, a professor of mathematics and a chief financial officer, all of whom had knowledge of the Form 990. Following the request for a retraction, The Ithacan had the veracity of the calculations confirmed by two lawyers and a professional journalist who has extensive experience reporting on the Form 990.
For the sake of clarity, The Ithacan will provide how it determined Collado’s monthly base compensation.
The first Form 990 from Ithaca College that Collado was listed on was for the 2017–18 fiscal year. The fiscal year began June 1, 2017, and ended May 31, 2018. The compensation listed was for the 2017 calendar year, which is Jan. 1, 2017, to Dec. 31, 2017. She began working at the college July 1, 2017, and her base compensation for the last six months of the calendar year was $235,410, according to page 55 of the form. By dividing this number by six, for the six months that Collado was compensated for the calendar year, the result is the number $39,235 per month, which was Collado’s base compensation for 2017, which provides a baseline for the first five months of 2018.
The second 990 Collado’s compensation is recorded for is the 2018–19 fiscal year. The fiscal year began June 1, 2018, and ended May 31, 2019. The compensation was listed for the 2018 calendar year. Her base compensation was $477,120, according to page 51 of the Form 990. This number divided by 12 is $39,760 per month, which is blended with half of the two fiscal years. Then, take the monthly base compensation from the previous year: $39,235 and multiply it by five to reflect the first five months of the fiscal year, which is $196,175. Then, take the 2018 base compensation, $477,120, and subtract the compensation for the first five months of 2018: $196,175, which equals $280,946. Then, take this number and divide by seven to reflect the last seven months of 2018, which equals $40,135 per month.
The third 990 form is for the month June 2019, before the college changed its fiscal year. No compensation is listed for the month.
The fourth Form 990 that Collado’s compensation is listed on was for the 2019–20 fiscal year. The fiscal year began July 1, 2019, and ended June 31, 2020. The compensation was listed for the 2019 calendar year. Collado’s base compensation was $487,853, according to page 49 of the 990 form. This number divided by 12 is $40,654 per month, which is blended with half of two fiscal years. Then, take the monthly base compensation from the previous year, $40,135, and multiply it by six to reflect the first six months of the fiscal year, which is $240,810. Then, take the 2019 base compensation, $487,853, and subtract the compensation for the first six months of 2019, $240,810, which equals $247,043. Then, take this number and divide by six to reflect the last six months of 2019, which equals $41,174 per month.
The Form 990 for the 2020–21 fiscal year was released after The Ithacan published its story, so it was unable to be taken into account.
When the story was first published, there were some instances in which the fiscal year and calendar year were conflated. For example, it was stated that “For the 2019–20 year, Collado’s base compensation was $487,853.” Collado’s base compensation was $487,853 for the 2019 calendar year. This section of the story has been clarified.
This clarification will be added into The Ithacan’s original story as well. While the college maintains the claims that Collado’s compensation did not increase, the only public document that records the compensation of the college’s leadership is the Form 990.
Alexis Manore, Editor in Chief
Elijah de Castro, News Editor