University President James W. Wagner ranked 27 out of the 550 top paid college executives, according to a Dec. 15 Chronicle of Higher Education article.

Wagner, who has acted as Emory’s President for the past eight years, receives a total yearly compensation of $1,200,633, according to the article.

This amount is broken down into a base compensation of $931,097 with an added $269,536 in deferred compensation and non-taxable benefits, according to Interim Vice President for University Communications and Marketing Nancy Seideman.

Seideman added that The Chronicle based its article on Form 990, which is titled “Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax Form.”

Form 990 is filled out by tax-exempt non-profit organizations and is filed each year with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The form allows the IRS and the public to evaluate non-profits and how they operate.

According to Seideman, compensation for Emory’s senior leadership is reviewed annually by the Committee on Executive Compensation and Trustees’ Conflict of Interest of the Board of Trustees.

Senior leadership includes Wagner as well as executive vice presidents, certain senior vice presidents and vice presidents, deans and Emory Healthcare senior executives, Seideman said.

According to Seideman, in addition to the annual review, the committee periodically engages independent outside consultants to review the accuracy of Emory’s executive pay as compared with other peer institutions.

Seideman added that the outside reviews are for all senior leadership groups and occur on a biannual schedule.

There was no additional review done after the release of The Chronicle‘s article, Seideman said.


In an email to the Wheel, Wagner said he is grateful because his compensation is the result of the deliberation of others.

“It is humbling to know that our trustees believe that I am justly compensated for my work on Emory’s behalf,” he wrote.

According to Wagner, he and his wife have chosen to adopt a “discipline of philanthropy” that encourages them to give money to important institutions.

Up until three years ago, money donated by Wagner enriched a discretionary fund meant to support certain student activities, he said.

However, Wagner added that in recent years most of his donations have gone to support student financial aid.

– By Naomi Maisel 

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The Emory Wheel was founded in 1919 and is currently the only independent, student-run newspaper of Emory University. The Wheel publishes weekly on Wednesdays during the academic year, except during University holidays and scheduled publication intermissions.

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