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Friday, Aug 12, 2022

Liebowitz Yearly Pay Exceeds $500,000

President of the College Ronald D. Liebowitz continues to maintain a salary and benefits package comparable to that of peer institutions despite increases over the last decade.

Liebowitz and Chief Financial Officer Patrick Norton note that direct comparisons of total compensation can be misleading, as benefits can often be construed in different manners.

“No one cheats, but they interpret things differently,” Liebowitz explained.

Liebowitz’s compensation, which in fiscal year 2007 was $514,012, includes such things as deferred — and thus non-guaranteed — compensation based on performance goals set out annually. Such compensation is counted twice, thus when Liebowitz leaves Middlebury his total compensation will be re-reported as a large lump sum payment.

The final number is settled upon after reviewing the pay of peer institutions and meeting with outside consultants. It is not, however, without strings attached, according to Rick Fritz, head of the Compensation Committee, the body that determines the president’s compensation.

“Every year we give Ron [Liebowitz] a set of goals. At the end of the year we have a rather exhaustive performance appraisal against those goals,” he said.

Norton said that the Liebowitz’s salary increased by an average of 2.2 percent between the years of 1999 and 2008 without adjusting for inflation. With inflation factored in, the increase is half a percent.

If Liebowitz does not meet a goal, and there are not extenuating circumstances making such a goal unreachable, it is within his contract for his compensation to be adjusted. Such a situation has not yet presented itself, however.

In defending Liebowitz’s salary, Fritz noted the difficulties that accompany a career in collegiate leadership.

“I think [being a college president is] one of the toughest jobs in America … it’s a 24/7 job,” he said.

It is further complicated at Middlebury by the large variety of schools with which the College is affiliated. From the Monterey Institute for International Studies to Middlebury’s Schools Abroad to the Language Schools, Middlebury educates many thousands more than the 2,400 full-time undergraduate students in Vermont.

Though he recognizes much of Liebowitz’s time is spent managing the College and fundraising, Ty Flynn ’11 finds the President’s high salary frustrating given his lack visibility on campus.

“How can you raise funds for an institution that you rarely are present at?” Flynn wrote in an e-mail. “How many student performances, exhibitions or shows have you seen him at? In essence, Liebowitz should be rubbing elbows with the Suits as well as Patagonia fleeces.”

Looking to the future, Liebowitz predicts that regardless of the economic climate “the president’s compensation will be in line with or less than faculty compensation” and marked increases are unlikely. The current plan is for a salary freeze until fiscal year 2012.