Tax Form Reveals Rider’s Top Admin Salaries – The Rider News
By Sarah Siock
Several of Rider’s top administrators, including President Gregory Dell’Omo, received significant raises in 2019 according to the university’s latest IRS report. Dell’Omo received $620,112 in annual salary and benefits as the highest paid employee, nearly $55,000 more than the previous year.
The Rider News has acquired a copy of the university’s 2019 IRS 990, which runs from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. The form shows eight administrators and two faculty earned base salaries over $200,000. $.
The report reveals that several administrators received large performance-based bonuses, while Rider’s faculty suffered no salary or cost-of-living increases from 2013 through the fall of 2021.
In 2019, Dell’Omo’s salary was $532,400 and $87,712 in extra benefits. In 2018, Dell’Omo’s total compensation was $565,417. Part of Dell’Omo’s salary increase was due to a performance bonus of $36,386.
“The president’s salary and performance bonus are determined by the board of directors. The performance bonus is normally based on the chairman’s performance in the applicable financial year, but as no bonus has been awarded for a number of years, the board has also taken into account the chairman’s performance over the his entire tenure at Rider,” said the university’s associate vice president. Marketing and Communications Kristine Brown. “The Board of Directors evaluates the President’s performance based on mutually agreed-upon objectives developed by the President and the Board.”
Although the school’s tax records list its highest paid employees, they do not always list the same people and positions each year. Of the 13 employees listed in the 2018 and 2019 reports, 12 received raises.
Men’s basketball head coach Kevin Baggett’s salary in 2019 was $344,732 and $36,026 in extra benefits, making him the second highest paid employee at the university. In 2018, Baggett’s total salary was $316,645, meaning he received an additional $64,113 in 2019. Baggett could not be reached for comment.
During the 2019 to 2020 season, Baggett led the men’s basketball team to 18 wins and 12 losses. The team was scheduled to face Niagara in the MAAC Quarterfinals before the tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Coach Baggett’s salary reflects the market value of an experienced and successful men’s basketball head coach at MAAC. Recent increases come from revenue and private donations generated by the men’s basketball program,” Brown said.
Vice President of Finance James Hartman was the third highest paid employee and highest paid cabinet member with total compensation of $324,829. Provost DonnaJean Fredeen was the second highest paid cabinet member with total compensation of $321,778 with an increase of $32,508 from the previous year.
Hartman, Fredeen, Vice President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel Mark Solomon, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Planning and Secretary of the Board Debbie Stasolla, Vice President of Facilities and University Operations Michael Reca, Vice President of enrollment management Drew Aromando and vice president for academic advancement Karin Klim all received performance-based bonuses in 2019. The average bonus was just under $26,000.
“Performance-based bonuses for senior management are determined by the President and the Board of Directors and are based on performance during the applicable fiscal year. Senior leaders are evaluated annually against objectives developed and approved by the President and the Board of Directors. Through an independent company, the board regularly assesses the total compensation of lead directors, including fixed and variable compensation, against peer institutions,” Brown said.
The university ended fiscal 2021 with a deficit of approximately $9.5 million. Brown said all cabinet members took pay cuts that year to help mitigate financial savings from the pandemic on the institution, which amounted to about $475,000 in savings.
“A projected deficit is always an important factor when developing the university’s overall annual budget,” Brown said.
Barbara Franz, Professor of Political Science and President
of Rider’s chapter of the American Association of University Teachers (AAUP), reviewed the tax document and expressed concern about the lack of raises and bonuses for nonadministrative faculty members. While the AAUP this month ratified a one-year agreement, including a 3% salary increase for its members, Franz noted that all faculty salaries had been frozen for several years.
Franz said: “Greg Dell’Omo continues to live very well. The board granted him another raise of over $52,000 in fiscal 2020, bringing his overall base salary to $532,400. Meanwhile, some of our students are working double shifts at pizzerias and grocery store checkouts to pay Rider’s tuition, and our teachers have to make ends meet with salaries frozen since 2013.”
Franz also questioned the money Rider has spent on legal fees in recent years following the lawsuits surrounding Dell’Omo’s failed attempt to sell Westminster Choir College (WCC) and its subsequent decision to close its campus. from Princeton. In 2019, the university paid $352,058 to the law firm Pepper Hamilton. The previous year, the university had paid $831,332 to the prestigious and expensive company.
“With their many bad decisions, the president of Rider and his many vice presidents got involved in a number of lawsuits, spent huge sums on consultants and law firms and, through their leadership, succeeded to have Rider’s bond rating downgraded by Moody’s Investors Service twice last year. Overall, administration failures have cost Rider millions of dollars. Now they appear to be short of credit. They just hired Credo, a consulting firm that focuses primarily on downsizing colleges and downsizing liberal arts programs. The board rewards these bad decisions and lack of ideas by big paychecks to the president and his cabinet,” Franz said.
According to Brown, Rider partnered with national higher education consulting firm Credo in June because of the “complex and multifaceted challenges” facing the university. The company specializes in helping independent colleges and universities move up the survival-to-thrive continuum. Credo has worked with over 400 institutions like Rider since its inception in 1995.
Brown also commented on the lack of faculty raises and the sale of Westminster Choir College.
“Faculty compensation is governed by the collective agreement. The contract in place at that time did not include any agreed-upon bonuses for faculty members or merit increases for individual bargaining unit members based on performance,” Brown said. “…With regard to Westminster…this university-wide strategic initiative voted on by the Board of Trustees in 2017 after careful consideration, analysis and reflection, designed both to preserve the WCC and to further improve Westminster College of the Arts, has been viewed positively by the rating agencies.The corresponding legal action, which we believe has no merit and is intended to hinder and impose unnecessary financial hardship to the entire Rider community, are unfortunately a cost of business that we have to deal with.
Brown added that the pay cuts for cabinet members and the president from 2020 to 2021 “exceeded any increase received from 2019 to 2020.”
“The Cabinet will again not receive a salary increase this year, 2021-22, which will be the seventh time in the past nine years dating back to 2013-2014, as will the AAUP,” Brown said. “…Furthermore, we are surprised and disappointed by the attack on Barbara Franz. … But the most important and perhaps the biggest disappointment is this attempt to create divisions and conflicts immediately after a successful negotiation and at the very beginning of an academic year; one that will especially require collaboration, cooperation, and goodwill for us to meet and overcome the many challenges we will face, not as factions, but as a united community.
Click here to read Rider’s Form 990 tax.