By Matt Tullis
Eleven days before about 23 Ashland University faculty — many of them tenured — received letters letting them know their jobs were being terminated, the university announced that Scott Van Loo was being promoted from vice president of marketing and enrollment to executive vice president.
Van Loo held the job of executive vice president for a little more than a year before leaving to become vice president of enrollment at Cedarville University, but that job came with a hefty pay raise, according to the 2015 IRS 990 form filed by AU with the federal government. That form covers AU’s fiscal year, which ran from June 1, 2015-May 31, 2016, however the figures in the table below, according to IRS instructions for Schedule J (which is where the table below appears), include salaries for the calendar year ending within the organization’s fiscal year, which in this case was 2015
According to those forms (both the 2014 and the 2015 filing), Van Loo’s reportable compensation went from $115,902 in 2014 to $154,799 in 2015, the year he was promoted, an increase of $38,897, or 33.6 percent. His total compensation jumped from $137,848 to $180,453, an increase of $42,605.
This raise came at a time when Carlos Campo, who had just taken over as AU president in June of that year, was saying that the university was not OK financially.
“Here’s an institution that frankly was in peril of defaulting,” he said, according to The Collegian, AU’s award-winning student newspaper. “We were in peril of being the next Virginia Intermont (a private liberal arts school that closed in 2014). We’re not there; we’re not in danger of closing our doors.”
And yet, Van Loo received a raise that was close to the amount that AU paid newly hired professors for an entire year. For a little bit of perspective, consider that my first contract as a faculty member at AU came in at $47,000, just about $8,100 more than Van Loo’s raise.
I spent eight years at Ashland University as a professor. I was originally hired in the English Department. At the start of my third year, I helped form the new Journalism and Digital Media department. I obtained tenure and was promoted to associate professor in 2014, the year before Van Loo’s promotion. All told, my base compensation increased a grand total of $7,875 from 2007 through 2016, a 16.75 percent increase. The vast majority of that increase came from the 10.5 percent raise, or $5,214, that I got when I was granted tenure and was promoted to associate professor.
Because the university was in dire financial straights in 2015, faculty didn’t get an across-the-board, cost-of-living raise for the second straight year. The only faculty who did get a raise were those who were tenured and promoted, a decision that is made by the Board of Trustees, usually in January (one of the professors who was tenured and promoted in January 2015 was terminated eight months later in Campo’s cuts).
Despite the fact that faculty were not getting raises, other university administrators did in 2015.
Stephen Storck, the vice president of finance and administration, received a 2.8 percent raise that year. That took his pay up to $165,550. Margaret Pomfret, the vice president of development saw her pay increase by 3.4 percent, up to $149,096. Just two years earlier, in 2013, Pomfret had made $137,095, meaning that in the two years that faculty received no raises, Pomfret’s pay increased by $12,001, or 8.8 percent.
Even the position of provost, which in 2015-16 was an interim position, saw a significant increase in pay. Douglas Fiore was hired originally by AU to be the new dean of the College of Education, but he took over as interim provost when Frank Pettigrew was “pushed out” by the board after a nearly unanimous vote of no confidence against him and former president Fred Finks by the AU Faculty Senate in May 2014.
I use quotation marks around pushed out, though, because Pettigrew remained on the payroll. He received $153,682 in 2014 despite having no job responsibilities other than being a consultant for the university. The following year, despite being interim, Fiore was paid $166,527, an 8.4 percent increase over what Pettigrew’s final full-year contract paid him.
And even though Fiore was doing the provost job full-time, Pettigrew was still paid $59,760 in 2015, an amount that far exceeds what many AU professors, particularly those in the College of Arts and Sciences, make in an entire contract year. I never made more than $56,883 (which was my base compensation plus supplemental contracts for things like advising student internships in 2014-15) in a single year at AU.
And, of course, AU was paying at least two presidents in 2015. Campo was paid $204,354 during his first semester as president, which means his annual contract probably comes out to more than $400,000 (which in and of itself should infuriate faculty, given the fact that’s about a 14 percent raise over what Finks made in his final year as president.
William Crothers, who served as interim president in 2014-15, made $140,727 in 2014 and $144,382 the following year. It’s not ridiculous to assume that that means he was paid $285,109 to be president (which is a bargain compared to what Fred Finks was being paid before him!). Crothers kicked off the faculty cuts in October 2014 when he informed 15 faculty members they were losing their jobs.
Finally, in 2015, AU paid Fred Finks $349,959, which is a little less than the $350,972 he made in 2014 (which included one semester — the spring — in which he was president, a semester that ended in Faculty Senate’s vote of no confidence).