Chancellor: Simmons took pay cut

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

President Ruth Simmons requested and received a reduction in compensation of approximately 20 percent for the current fiscal year and more than a 10-percent reduction for the previous year, Chancellor Thomas Tisch ’76 said yesterday.

“In all of her actions, she has been extraordinarily aware of the tough times that everybody has been facing,” Tisch said. “It’s just another data point as to why, every day, the Corporation is honored to work with her.”

Though Simmons has previously hinted at a reduction in her own pay, neither she nor the University has yet to announce such a step.

“It’s not a P.R. stunt,” Tisch said. “She is animated by a sense of appropriateness, proportion and a tireless dedication to Brown.”

In response to a question following an “Hour with the President” address during Family Weekend in October, Simmons told the audience that she was planning to talk to the Corporation about reducing her executive compensation.

She further emphasized the point in a Jan. 27 e-mail to the Brown community announcing major projected losses to the endowment and planned budget cuts. “I fully understand that the pain must begin at the top,” she wrote, “and we in the senior administration are making major cuts in our own budgets in order to meet this challenge.” In that e-mail, Simmons recommended a $4.5-million reduction in the overall budget for administration for the fiscal year beginning Jul. 1 – a budget that includes the salaries of senior University administrators.

Last week, Simmons wrote in an e-mail to a Herald columnist that she has “over the past two years asked for a reduction in pay.” She could not be reached for additional comment Monday afternoon.

Many of the highest-paid university presidents across the country have recently said they would give back a fraction of their pay or give up their raises, according to a Nov. 22 article in the New York Times, though Tisch said voluntary conversations about salary reductions are not “conversations you expect to have” with the leaders of top schools.

Simmons earned $775,715 in the fiscal year ending in June 2007, the last period for which the University’s public tax records are available.

Tisch added that other senior members of the administration have come forward this year to ask for salary reductions, but did not provide additional details.

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