June 1, 2023
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Tax form presents Collado’s starting salary

Ithaca College’s 2017 federal form 990 was released April 16 for the 2017–18 fiscal year, indicating President Shirley M. Collado’s salary for the first time.

Collado received a total sum of $356,941 from July to December 2017. This year’s federal form 990 filed by the college was released April 16 and applies to the fiscal year ending May 31, 2018. The form includes information about highest paid employee compensation during the 2017 calendar year. According to the form, Collado’s base compensation was $235,410, other reportable compensation was $74,469, retirement and other deferred compensation totaled to $25,000 and nontaxable benefits amounted to $6,062. She also received a one-time transition payment of $25,000.

Dan Bauman, database reporter at The Chronicle of Higher Education, said that over the last 10 years, salaries for college presidents have continued to grow, and is due to the higher education marketplace becoming more competitive. He also said colleges and universities tend to offer higher salaries to create a sense of stability and ensure presidents stay at the institution.

The average pay of presidents of private colleges, including those who served partial years, was approximately $536,000 in 2016; for presidents who served the whole year, the average pay was an average of $560,000.

Collado’s starting salary is higher than her predecessor’s, former Ithaca College President Tom Rochon’s, and is indicative of trends in higher education.

Because Rochon was employed until June 2017 and Collado began her tenure in July 2017, compensations for both presidents are included on the form. When Rochon began his position as president in July 2008, he earned a total compensation of $178,568 for the first six months of his tenure, according to the 2008 Form 990. Taking inflation into account, this is equivalent to approximately $213,397 in December 2018. Collado made approximately $143,000 more in the first six months of her tenure as president than Rochon did in his first six months, taking inflation adjustments into account. This number includes all of the reported compensations beyond base salary.

Dave Maley, director of public relations at the college, said the college does not comment on compensation for individuals at the college.

Dave Lissy ’87, chair of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees, said that the presidential compensation is set by an agreement between the president and the board of trustees. He did not provide further comment on why Collado’s starting salary is higher than Rochon’s starting salary.

According to the board of trustees’ website, the president’s compensation is set every year after the Compensation and Assessment Committee reviews benchmark data from other institutions similar to the college’s size, operating budget, breadth of programs and number of employees, as well as the president’s performance. In addition to the salary, other components of the president’s compensation include the president’s residence, the use of a car, a home office, club memberships for college business and standard benefits packages.

Collado came to the college after Rochon resigned in July 2017 after a semester of protests led by POC at IC and student and faculty votes of no confidence. The protestors were criticizing the administration’s handling of racist incidents on campus. Bauman said that generally, potential presidential candidates may receive higher compensation for coming into a difficult environment.

“Certainly, tougher circumstances can be a good negotiating tactic on the part of a potential college president candidate,” Bauman said. “In order to deal with, potentially, the instability of a president who was forced to retire or his tenure came to a tumultuous end, university boards may feel the pressure to throw in additional compensation … that may be worth somebody’s while.”

Collado also came to the college with previous administrative experience in higher education. Prior to working at the college, she was the executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer at Rutgers University–Newark, vice president for student affairs and dean of the college at Middlebury College and executive vice president of the Posse Foundation, a nonprofit college access organization for students from public high schools and multicultural backgrounds. Before coming to the college, Rochon was dean and provost at Claremont Graduate University and executive vice president and chief academic officer at the University of St. Thomas. Bauman said chief executive roles in higher education tend to have higher salaries for individuals who have been in administrative positions for a long time.

Sophomore Alyssa Skelly said she thinks that Collado’s salary is well-deserved.

“She’s making a lot of changes to the campus that are benefiting students, faculty and even the future of our campus itself,” Skelly said.

Sophomore Louis Riolo said he thought Collado’s salary seemed normal because she is a high-ranking administrator.

“I don’t think it’s that insane because she is the president of a college,” he said. “With a private institution, where there’s a lot of money coming in and she has to deal with so many things, I think it’s a pretty fair salary.”

Faculty members who The Ithacan has spoken to about Collado’s compensation said they felt like they did not have enough time to read the federal form 990 to adequately comment on the issue.

The 2018 federal form 990 also states that Collado was also compensated for $26,000 while she is living in a private residence off campus. The college is currently building a new president’s home on campus after selling the previous president’s mansion. Maley said this compensation is not being paid to Collado but rather that it is the value the college determined she gained from living in that residence, which must be reported to the IRS as part of her compensation. Collado also received $27,094 due to a gross-up payment — when the gross amount of a payment is increased to account for taxes that will be withheld, essentially to ensure that the employee receives the full amount after taxes — related to temporary housing.

According to the 2018 form, Rochon made $949,973 in total during his final six months at the college — his base compensation was $196,413, other reportable compensation was $671,738, retirement and other deferred compensation was $22,049 and nontaxable benefits were $59,773. Included in the other reportable compensation section is $562,065, which was provided in accordance with the severance compensation agreement. This agreement was approved by the board of trustees, according to the form.

According to the board of trustees’ website, it is typical to see a high compensation figure for the final year of a presidency because it reflects a combination of the year’s salary and accumulated deferred compensation. When former President Peggy Ryan Williams left the college in 2008, she earned $404,950, according to the 2008 federal form 990. Taking inflation into account, this is equivalent to approximately $483,935 in 2018.

The next five top earners at the college after Collado and Rochon are Sean Reid, dean of the School of Business, with $405,472; Nancy Pringle, executive vice president of human resources, with $347,340; Christopher Biehn, former vice president of institutional advancement, with $303,745; Linda Petrosino, dean of the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance, with $262,386; and Brian Dickens, former vice president of human resources, with $250,067.

Assistant News Editor Ryan King contributed reporting.

Madison Fernandez can be reached at mfernandez1@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @madfernandez616