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President Emeritus Silber receives $6.1 million

34 years of deferred income and interest add up

In its annual filing with the Division of Public Charities, Boston University will disclose next week that in fiscal year 2005 President Emeritus John Silber received $6.1 million in total compensation and benefits. The filing indicates that most of that amount represents money that had been earned, set aside, and invested over the course of Silber’s 34-year career at the school, and it became payable in full in that fiscal year.

A statement by the Boston University Board of Trustees praised Silber’s leadership and said the amounts reported “reflect not only Dr. Silber’s significant accomplishments, but also the fact that 34 years of deferred compensation became payable last year.”

“Dr. Silber deserves enormous credit for transforming Boston University into an internationally respected research university,” the statement said. “At the same time, we are sensitive to issues involving executive compensation, and it is important that people understand the specifics of Dr. Silber’s situation and particularly how his deferred compensation built up over the course of 34 years.”

For a complete schedule of the amount of deferred compensation set aside each year, as well as the total investment return, click here.

Todd Klipp, BU vice president and general counsel, said that under commitments made to Silber many years ago, a predetermined amount of money was set aside as deferred compensation in each of those 34 years and separately invested. A majority of the set-asides had been publicly reported in the University’s previous filings with both the IRS and the Division of Public Charities, and the cumulative amount — $4.5 million — became payable following Silber’s retirement in the fall of 2003. According to Klipp, Silber will not receive any more deferred compensation.

Klipp said the balance of the money reported in this year’s filing represents payments or imputed income to Silber arising out of housing, leave benefits, insurance, and employee benefit plan contributions also owed to the former president, bringing the total amount reported to $6.1 million. 

“This is not $6.1 million that came out of the 2005 budget at the expense of tuition or faculty pay or operating expenses,” said Klipp. “This was money that was earned, set aside, and invested every year for 34 years, and it became payable in 2004 after he retired.”

The board’s statement said that in recent months the trustees have completed a review of the University’s executive compensation practices and have voted to establish new policies that reflect current best practices for tax-exempt institutions.

“Best practices evolve all the time,” the trustees wrote, “and our obligation as a board is to make sure we keep pace and hold ourselves and the institution to ever-higher standards.”