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Jenkins’ pay remitted to Holy Cross

Eileen Duffy | Friday, December 1, 2006

While some college leaders’ salaries are climbing into the millions of dollars, the total compensation for Notre Dame’s president was last registered at just $476,325. Whatever the sum, in University President Father John Jenkins’ case, it’s his religious order – the Indiana Province of the Priests of the Holy Cross – that reaps the benefits, not his bank account.

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual “Executive Compensation” report lists the salaries of public and private university leaders. While reporters may access the 2006-7 measurements for public schools, figures for private schools become available when their tax forms are released, nearly two years later. The $476,325 number thus corresponds to University President Emeritus Father Edward Malloy’s final year, 2004-5.

Of the leaders in the 853 universities, colleges and specialized schools surveyed, Audrey Doberstein of Delaware’s Wilmington College – who stepped down in June of 2005 – garnered the highest pay, with a total compensation of $2,746,241. The highest-paid public university president was David P. Roselle at the University of Delaware, who will receive just under $1 million for 2006-7.

Of the 33 schools classified as research universities with “very high research activity,” Vanderbilt University’s E. Gordon Lee earned the highest sum – and the third-highest of all private universities – receiving about $1.2 million in 2004-5. Malloy’s salary, on the other hand, was the second-lowest in the group.

“I would say that the $400,000 level for an elite private institution is in the domain of normal, but maybe slightly low,” said Paul Fain, a staff reporter at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Presidential compensation, Fain explained, includes not only the base salary and retirement pay, but also deferred compensation – pay set aside by the institution not available to the president until he reaches an agreed-upon requirement. Performance and retention bonuses can also be added to the mix.

Whether the result of bonuses or normal salary increases, Malloy’s compensation did rise from $260,264 in the 1996-7 fiscal year to the aforementioned $476,325, Fain noted.

But those increases didn’t mean more money for Malloy, and they don’t mean more money for Jenkins. What’s growing, rather, is the common purse shared by the Priests of the Holy Cross.

“It’s interesting that at religious institutions, the leader will donate his/her salary to the religious order,” Fain said. “It’s pretty unique in higher education, now.”

Like all the Holy Cross priests at Notre Dame, Jenkins took a vow of poverty that requires him to donate any money he earns from employment to the order.

“A diocesan priest, like from a parish, doesn’t take those vows, so he is able to own things,” said Father Anthony Szakaly, the assistant provincial for the Indiana Province of the Holy Cross Priests, which is headquartered in South Bend. “We don’t own anything ourselves – everything we have belongs to the province, to the Holy Cross.

“We give everything we have, and we take what we need from the common purse.”

In addition to funding the priests’ personal expenditures, money from the common purse is used to care for the retired religious. The Indiana province also donates to the general administration, headquartered in Rome, as well as its missions in East Africa and Chile.

“Obviously, Father Jenkins is president, [and] his salary is a significant one,” Szakaly said. “But, it’s not the only salary. All of our priests – whether in a parish or high school or at University of Notre Dame – all their salaries come into the common purse.”

That common purse will likely be growing, if presidential salaries like Jenkins’ stay on the rise. Fain said the increase reflects just how hard presidents work.

“These jobs are really tough. Even people who are critical of high presidential pay recognize that,” he said. “They’re working 18-hour days, fundraising, interacting with everyone from students to lawmakers to parents to faculty. There is a sense among some presidents that ‘I want to be taken care of, I want to have my family taken care of, I want to be comfortable.'”

And that’s why presidents of religious institutions, like Notre Dame, are so impressive, Fain said.

“There’s a different ethos there. Notre Dame is a unique place,” he said. “Religious institutions have a lot of credibility in some people’s minds for their leaders not earning anything for doing these incredibly difficult jobs … At Notre Dame, you add the extra element. He is ‘Father’ Jenkins. He has to have moral leadership qualities that maybe you don’t have at other universities. It’s an extra role he has to play, and it makes it a really challenging job.”

The role of professor is one that Malloy continued to play throughout his presidency. Jenkins, on the other hand, taught his last philosophy course in the spring of 2003, before he was inaugurated president.

“He’s got a big job and he’s still new to it, so he’s got a good bit to learn,” said Paul Weithman, chair of the philosophy department. “I would love to have him teaching for us because he’s a very good teacher, but the most important thing he can do for us is be a good president.

“I’m most happy having him devote his time, attention and energy to that.”

As Weithman noted, Jenkins’ busy travel schedule and “very visible” role in the American Catholic Church might impede him from best fulfilling his professorial duties – but Weithman thinks Jenkins is finding other ways to do the very things teaching allows.

“Given what I know of him, I don’t have any doubt he has ways to stay intellectually vital because he loves to read, think and write,” Weithman said. “Also, one argument for teaching is it helps the president to stay in touch with the student … but I’m sure he’s in touch with students anyway.”

He also is in touch with his religious brothers, Szakaly said.

“Right now, Father Jenkins is being called to be president of Notre Dame; before, Father Malloy was called to be president; now Malloy will be back in classroom, contributing in that way. We’re all working together for the same goal of promoting the mission of Holy Cross in building the kingdom as God gives us the gifts to do so. Jenkins lives with us; he joins us for common meals and common prayer.

“He’s part of our community in a very real way.”