By Katie Zeck
The total compensation of Rider president Dr. Mordechai Rozanski ranks sixth in comparison to nine nearby, similarly-sized private college presidents, according to the most recent available data. In addition, Rozanski has declined certain monetary increases and benefits in tax reports from 2007-2009.
According to the most recent reports from GuideStar.org — a website that publicizes tax reports of non-profit organizations — Rozanski, 66, made $365,286 as a base salary in 2009 and $480,814 for his total compensation. His deferred compensation was $28,839 and he made $65,680 in non-taxable benefits. A deferred compensation is a retirement supplement used to retain presidents at a time when there is significant competition by other colleges and universities to recruit strong leaders. Non-taxable benefits include medical benefits, life and disability insurance premiums and the rental value of the residence being provided to the president.
In 2009, the president declined bonus and incentive compensations and had declined his deferred compensation in years before, Rider’s Board of Trustees President Howard Stoeckel wrote in an email.
“In light of recent difficult economic times, over the last three Form 990 reporting years, Rozanski declined a base salary increase in one of those years, for two years he declined the performance awards recommended by the board and for all three of those years he declined the deferred compensation awards also recommended by the board,” Stoeckel said.
In comparison to Rozanski’s salary, GuideStar.org reports that five college presidents of the 10 researched by The Rider News make more than Rozanski and four make less. The presidents at Lehigh University and Monmouth University earned the most, while the presidents of Seton Hall University and Iona College earned the least.
The last three Form 990 reports were from the calendar years of 2007, 2008 and 2009. According to GuideStar.com, a Form 990 is an annual report that federally tax-exempt organizations must file with the IRS. It provides information on the filing organization’s mission, programs and finances.
Stoeckel said that the total compensation Rozanski received in years subsequent to 2010 has not yet been reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by Rider or many private universities comparable to Rider.
“The information has not been published publicly for any private university president in the Chronicle for Higher Education, the publication of record,” Stoeckel said. “For these reasons, such information is not available at this time.”
“The total amount of funds that President Rozanski declined for performance awards and deferred compensation covering the three reported years involved [in the comparision] exceeds $300,000,” Stoeckel said. “In light of state funding cuts in operating and scholarship support, these funds were reallocated for institutional use.”
Rozanski explained in an email response to The Rider News that his reasoning behind refusing certain awards and increases was a result of the difficult economic hardships the University faced.
“During this period, the state cut Rider’s student scholarship grants and operating fund support; moreover, the economic recession was
negatively impacting our budget,” Rozanski said. “As a result, we had to make difficult cuts to balance our operating budget and to increase funds for student
financial aid. In that context, I felt that I should make my own
contribution to dealing with our budget challenges by declining various
increases recommended by the Board of Trustees during the several years
involved. It just seemed like the right thing to do.”
Rozanski’s last salary increase was in this academic year at the same percentage rate as the rest of the academic community, 1.95 percent. No compensation awards have been recommended yet for this academic year. According to Stoeckel, they are typically determined following a review at the end of the academic year.
In The New York Times article,“Private-College Presidents Getting Higher Salaries,” it was reported nationally that the average private college president received a 2.8 percent increase in base salary during 2010.
The approximate $300,000 that Rozanski declines in pay raises and bonuses gets put back into the University budget, said Dean of Students Anthony Campbell.
The refusal of these funds comes when most students feel that any additional funds to help ease the harsh rising costs of college tuition is more than welcome. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, annual prices for undergraduate tuition, room and board for the 2009-2010 academic year were estimated to be $12,804 at public institutions and $32,184 at private institutions. Between the 1999-2000 and 2009-2010 academic years, prices for undergraduate tuition, room and board at public institutions rose 37 percent and prices at private institutions rose 25 percent, after being adjusted for inflation. Compared to just 20 years ago, the cost for the average college tuition was $7,685 and is now at $17,464.
While President Obama has proposed supersizing loan programs for lower-income students and withholding financial aid from colleges that fail to keep tuition increases at a minimum, Stoeckel said that Rozanski has made a conscious effort to keep tuition costs down by declining bonuses and pay raises.
Students were pleased to hear that the additional funds not granted to Rozanski are used for the benefit of the University and its students.
“I think it’s awesome [that he declines the bonuses] to help us in that way,” senior Marissa DiPilla said. “If only more presidents of other colleges, organizations or companies would do the same in order to help others.”
Other students were glad that the money could be used to help with activities on campus.
“The [money Rozanski declines] should allow for developments in different clubs or organizations or even more events,” senior Howard Spaeth said. “It’s definitely something we could use to help pay for everything that happens on campus.”
According to Stoeckel, a performance award is a one-time compensation award made at the end of each year based on Rozanski’s annual performance in achieving a series of objectives. These objectives are established at the beginning of each year in consultation with the chairman of the Board of Trustees. The chairman also evaluates the results and makes an award recommendation for approval by the senior compensation committee of the board and the full board.
The objectives include institutional and academic progress, fundraising and enrollment success, financial performance and facilities enhancements. The recommended annual performance award amounts are also reviewed by an independent external compensation consultant to confirm that they are reasonable and comparable to peers, Stoeckel said.
“This award is called deferred compensation because while funds are allocated annually by the board, they are placed in a reserve fund and will not be paid directly to Rozanski unless and until he remains at Rider for his full contractual term,” Stoeckel said. “Thus, the payment is deferred until a date in the future when his term ends and he retires.”
Rozanski’s compensation is determined by the senior compensation committee of the Board of Trustees and is reviewed and approved by the full board annually. According to Stoeckel, his contract runs through July 2015 and is considered long term.
“An important part of the approval process is obtaining the advice of external consultants, who conduct a comprehensive market analysis and comparison to Rider’s peer institutions across the nation,” Stoeckel said. “The Board’s decision also reflects a detailed annual assessment of the President’s performance based on pre-established goals and objectives.”
As head of the Board of Trustees, Stoeckel said he is proud to have someone like Rozanski leading Rider University.
“We are frankly fortunate to have someone of President Rozanski’s vision and experience leading Rider during these challenging times as we continue our institutional progress.”