“Cracking the Nut,” Part 8: WSRI Continued

In response to the previous post in this series, I received a thoughtful message from a BUFM who pointed out that the “real issue” is not the number of high-salaried employees at WSRI but, instead, the failure to set up and manage WSRI and WSARC so that they might be profitable. The BUFM emphasized that most research institutes have a higher percentage of high-salaried employees than most university colleges or departments. Indeed, the BUFM suggested that the post might actually serve to create dissension among those in our bargaining unit because it highlights the wide variations in compensation among faculty in the colleges within our university.

I have no argument with anything that this correspondent has written. But the purpose of the posts in this series is not to highlight why each of the various enterprises and initiatives in which the university has “invested” large sums have been losing money rather than generating revenue. Coming up with those answers is the administration’s responsibility.

Instead, precisely because the administration has been very ambiguous even on how much it has had to subsidize these money-losing ventures, the purpose of this series is to suggest the scope of the revenues diverted from the core mission of the university and the degree to which this diversion represents very skewed institutional priorities. Yes, someone might take issue with the variations in compensation among faculty in the colleges within our university, but those variations are longstanding and exist in most universities across the United States. In striking contrast, that our university has experienced three successive years of negative cash flow is, as far as we have been able to determine, an unprecedented occurrence at a public university.

So, in this post, let’s go a step beyond the comparisons presented in the previous post and look at the highest salaries in WSRI and compare them to the highest BUFM salaries in each of the colleges with BUFMs.

The two highest paid employees of WSRI/WSARC are the chief scientist and the CEO, who earn, respectively, $374,158 and $219,501.

The highest paid BUFM in the university is the former provost, but at the moment, his salary is an outlier because it is the only BUFM salary that falls between the two highest salaries at WSRI/WSARC and because it is one of just several high salaries for BUFMs that has been calculated back from an administrative salary.

Because BUFMs on fiscal-year contracts have typically assumed administrative salaries, we have calculated all salaries to their academic-year equivalent. With that proviso in mind, and bearing in mind that the BUFM data is from April 2016, before the VRIP made it more difficult for us to track data, the highest BUFM salaries in each of the colleges were as follows:

CECS–$201,502.78

CEHS–$95,178.32

CoLA–$116,764.47

CoNH–$118,287.91

CoSM–$173,211.44

Lake–$100,680.78

RSCoB–$192,773.03

Indeed, in terms of suggesting skewed institutional priorities, if one looks at the mean and median salaries of WSRI/WSARC employees earning more than $100,000–$144,009.31 and $122,281.12, respectively—they are higher than the highest BUFM salary in four of the seven colleges with BUFMs.

Again, we acknowledge that this is, in many ways, an exercise in comparing apples to oranges, but it does very tellingly suggest very skewed institutional priorities.

 

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“Cracking the Nut,” Part 7: WSRI

This article in our continuing series on the budget issues at Wright State is the first of three concerning the payroll of the Wright State Research Institute (WSRI).

These articles were ready to be distributed late in the Fall semester, but because the vote of no-confidence in Dr. Robert Fyffe was in process, we postponed the distribution of these articles and a follow-up article on the Wright State Applied Research Corporation (WSARC). None of the articles has much to do with Dr. Fyffe’s performance, but because both units are now under Dr. Fyffe’s oversight and because both articles are likely to provoke a strong negative response from BUFMs, we did not wish to appear to be putting our thumb on the scale in the no-confidence vote.

Unlike WSARC, WSRI does not need to file distinct audited annual financial reports. So the only firm information that we have on the university’s expenditures on WSRI are related to payroll.

Over the last five years, 46 employees of WSRI have received salaries of $100,000 or higher. As of October 2016, 27 employees of WSRI were receiving salaries of $100,000 or higher.

Although it is in a sense comparing apples to oranges to juxtapose those numbers with BUFMs in the colleges receiving equivalent salaries, the exercise does, nonetheless, suggest a great deal about this university’s priorities.

The following list indicates the number of BUFMs earning $100,000 or higher:

  • CECS: 45 out of 88 BUFMs, or about 51% of all BUFMs.
  • CEHS: 1 out of 57 BUFMs, or less than 2% of all BUFMs (and that person, who is on a fiscal appointment, would be below $100,000, if her fiscal year salary were converted to the academic equivalent, in which case the percentage would go down to zero).
  • CoLA: 6 out of 211 BUFMs, or less than 3% of all BUFMs (and there would be only 4, if all fiscal year salaries were converted to academic equivalents, in which case the percentage would go down to a bit less than 2%).
  • CoNH: 3 out of 41 BUFMs, or about 7% of all BUFMs.
  • CoSM: 38 out of 158 BUFMs, or about 24% of all BUFMs (and there would be only 29, if all fiscal year salaries were converted to academic equivalents, in which case the percentage would go down to about 18%).
  • Lake: 1 out of 37 BUFMs, or less than 3% of all BUFMs.
  • RSCoB: 45 out of 61 BUFMs, or about 74% of all BUFMs.

More tellingly, WSRI has more employees earning salaries of $100,000 or higher than four of the seven colleges have BUFMs earning equivalent salaries, and in such a comparison, WSRI is just marginally behind CoSM.

As of April 2016, the average salary of TET BUFMs was $94,093.65, and the average salary of NTE BUFMs was $53,996.50. The average salary for instructors, or at-will NTE faculty, was $47,433.02.

So, not expectedly, the salary average for TET BUFMs is very clearly skewed by the numbers from several colleges.

Again, the next two articles in this series will also be related to WSRI.