Jehuda Reinharz’s Generous Compensation Package Raises Eyebrows at Brandeis
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One of the highest-paid individuals in Jewish communal life in 2011 took a bit of a hit in 2012 — but in neither case was he listed on the Forward’s salary survey.
Jehuda Reinharz, the noted historian of modern Jewish history, left his post as president of Brandeis University at the end of 2010, and thereby moved beyond the scope of the Forward’s CEO salary survey. But in 2011, a year he spent on sabbatical, Reinharz received $500,000 in salary and another $100,000 in benefits from the university — just $88,000 less in salary than he received the previous year, as president. Last year, Brandeis reduced his salary to $287,500.
The cash and benefits are to compensate Reinharz for serving in his new formal positions as president emeritus, as a returning faculty member of the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and as director of the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry, according to Brandeis. But in those positions, Reinharz teaches no classes, advises no graduate students and keeps no office hours.
His main job, he told The Boston Globe, which broke the story about his compensation package in November, is to advise Frederick Lawrence, his successor as Brandeis’s president.
It may be good he does not have to spend much time at Brandeis. The Mandel Foundation, a major Brandeis benefactor, paid Reinharz $800,000 the same year, 2011, for what it described as a full-time position as its president. But Reinharz told the Globe that he is actually a consultant to the foundation, with no set schedule there, either. “I don’t punch a clock,” he said. “I work when my work is needed.”
The sweet deal has rankled students, alumni and some faculty members of the Jewish university, which is named for Louis D. Brandeis, a former U.S. Supreme Court justice whose historical claim to fame rests in part on his career of battling corporate privilege.
But when asked about the arrangement, Reinharz told the Globe, “I am compensated according to my accomplishments. It’s the way America usually works.” He cited his multiyear record of fundraising for the school, and what he said was his continuing role in helping connect his successor with potential donors.
Reinharz, 69, was born in Haifa, Israel, and moved to the United States with his family at age 17. He joined the faculty at Brandeis in 1982 and became president in 1994.
Under the departure arrangement he has negotiated with Brandeis, the former president will receive his 2012 salary of $287,500 through 2014. After this, he will receive $180,000 per year for a position as a half-time professor.
According to the Globe, the Mandel Foundation “did not make it easy” for the public to see Reinharz’s compensation arrangements there for $800,000 in 2011, the most recent year available. The group’s publicly available federal tax records for that year listed Reinharz as simply an unpaid board member. It was only reports filed by three related Mandel family foundations that listed him as a paid consultant, making clear his financial compensation package with the major Brandeis donor.
The Mandel Foundation did not return calls seeking information on Reinhatz’s compensation package.
The news about Reinharz’s departing compensation package has moved some former students to start a petition calling on Brandeis trustees to put limits on top salaries and to be more transparent with the institute’s finances. One signer wrote, “I was a student during the most recent Brandeis financial crisis and cannot believe that this is what the trustees have decided to do with the little money they have to support their current faculty and programs.”
Some faculty members also spoke, mainly off the record, about what they saw as executive excess.
Others took issue with Brandeis’s stated mission to advance social justice, according to Jewish values, as one of its “four pillars.”
“Many of us feel that it lost its way,” said Sahar Massachi, a Brandeis alumnus who was among the organizers of the online petition, which was sent to the school leaders. “The way Brandeis is run is becoming more corporate.”
The university’s Senate, made up of faculty members, sent a letter to the board of trustees on December 9 expressing concern over Reinharz’s post-presidential compensation. In the letter the faculty members call for increasing oversight and transparency in the process of determining compensation. They also asked that decisions will take into consideration the need for fairness and proportionality.
In response to such complaints, Perry Traquina, chairman of the university’s board of trustees, put out a letter on November 22 in which he stated, “As Board Chair, one of my highest priorities will be to ensure that all current and future executive pay packages at Brandeis are fair, motivational and consistent with best practices.”
While not addressing Reinharz’s compensation directly, he added, “I pledge to make sure that everything we do meets the highest ethical and moral standards worthy of our namesake, Justice Louis D. Brandeis.”