Outgoing University President Claire E. Sterk, her leadership team and University deans will reduce their compensation by 15% effective July 1 to offset the University’s financial losses from the coronavirus pandemic, according to a May 19 University-wide email.
The University could not provide an estimate of exactly how much money the pay cuts will save, according to Vice President for Academic Communications Nancy Seideman. The cuts will also be “subject to review at the end of [the] calendar year.”
The president’s leadership team is composed of 11 people and the University has nine deans. Of those expected to receive a pay cut, seven have salaries listed on the University’s 2017 tax filings, the most recent publicly accessible data.
Sterk earned almost $1.2 million in 2017. That same year, Executive Vice President for Business and Administration and Emory CFO Christopher Augostini earned $698,203, Vice President and Secretary of the University Allison Dykes earned $413,257, and Executive Vice President of Health Affairs and CEO of Emory Healthcare Jonathan Lewin earned about $2.2 million.
Also that year, Dean of the Rollins School of Public Health James Curran earned about $1.6 million, Dean of Emory College of Arts and Sciences Michael Elliott earned $516,747, and Dean of the Emory School of Medicine Vikas Sukhatme earned $255,127.
The announcement comes in the wake of considerable financial losses from refunds of campus fees and employee and faculty salary continuations. The University has also implemented several cost-saving efforts including budget cuts and a hiring freeze.
Curran told the Wheel in a May 19 email that he believes “it is appropriate for deans and others to sacrifice in this way” when everyone is “dealing with the public health crisis of the century.”
According to the annoucement, Emory expects a $10 million shortfall for the current fiscal year, which ends on Aug. 31. The University will not know the full scope of losses from the pandemic for the next fiscal year, but expects a “clearer financial picture” by the beginning of the fall semester.
“This reduction … is not just a cost-savings step, but also a representation of the commitment the leadership team has to preserving Emory’s academic and research missions,” the email reads.
Student Government Association President Lori Steffel (21B) applauded the salary reduction, noting that she believes a 15% cut is high compared to other institutions.
“I was really pleased to see that — I’ve attended a number of virtual town halls … and a recurring theme has been a polite ask by the members of the Emory community that the leadership demonstrate a sacrifice all the way from the top level down,” Steffel said. “I think this is a clear indication of them hearing and understanding those suggestions.”
Senior leadership at peer institutions have made similar reductions to their compensation. The president, provost and chief operating officer at the University of Virginia have taken a 10% pay cut. Employees at Duke University (N.C.) earning over $285,000 will face a “temporary reduction of salary” along with “voluntary salary reductions” by senior leaders. The president, provost, and executive vice president of Harvard University (Mass.) will be taking a 25% pay cut.
College Council President Aditya Jhaveri (21C) said he believes the salary cuts are most likely symbolic and he is uncertain about the Emory community’s reaction to the announcement.
“I think their intention behind that is to show that they really want to be here for the Emory community — I’m not completely sure how it’s going to be received by the Emory community … I hope that they receive that well,” Jhaveri said.