Oberlin College Executive Pay

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Oberlin College tax return for 2017

JD has researched the latest Oberlin College executive compensation, as reported on its IRS form 990 (The income tax return for non-profit organizations). The newest tax form available is for FY 2017, which ended on June 30th, 2018.

Pages 1 and 67-68 from Oberlin College’s form 990 are excerpted here. The first page summarizes the asset and income items for the year. Lines 7a and 7b report a $3.9M business loss — about $1400 per student. Is there dirty laundry hiding in this loss? Pages 67 and 68 contain the salary information for the 15 highest paid people in the college. The numbers are enough to make one puke.

Take a look at the prescient predictions of financial turmoil that have come to pass sooner than JD expected caused by extrapolating the status quo.

The tax accountants and tax attorneys who prepared this tax return have done a reasonable amount of obfuscation on the salary numbers. Nevertheless, one can deduce what each person’s total compensation was with a little bit of work. Be aware that the total compensation includes such things as fringe benefits and pension contributions.

Oberlin College Executive Pay is huge

The president’s compensation needs some additional arithmetic to arrive at a reasonably close number for it. For part of the year, the president was Krislov, and for the rest of the year, the president was Ambar. Deferred compensation further muddles Krislov’s compensation. This compensation was paid for work performed in earlier years and cannot be included in the current year because it would distort the figures for the money earned in the current year.

The bottom line is the Oberlin president’s salary is well over $1.2 million during the period covered by the tax return. It is probably a higher number now. This compensation is about 3x that of the president of the United States. Considering that President Ambar has at least 3x the bull slinging skills of President Trump, she is arguably underpaid.

President Amber’s salary has been increased significantly, perhaps as a reward for the anticipated savings from progressively busting the union as part of a social justice program. Indeed, the BOT is flying at 35 (K) Above Reality.

JP Morgan’s financial integrity test

JD recalls one of the biggest robber barons, JP Morgan. He had an unusual policy for evaluating the executive compensation of prospective borrowers or investments. In those days, JP Morgan’s bank could lend any amount of money to any borrower that it wanted to. Unlike today, it also could invest in the common stock of a borrower. The bank did not have to answer to anyone. If it made a poor investment, much of it came out of Morgan’s pocket.

In the case of Oberlin College, there is no similar mechanism for ensuring that when the trustees make stupid financial decisions that they will feel it in their own pockets. None of them want to be accountable in the same way as JP Morgan. After all, they are of a higher class than robber barons and should enjoy all the executive exemptions and privileges that inure to those holding superior positions.

Morgan had an interesting test for lending to or investing in a company that Oberlin College could almost certainly not pass. His rule was simple. He would ask the prospective borrower to submit a statement showing the job titles and compensation of everybody working for the company. He looked at how much they pay at each level increased from the income of the previous tier. 

If the compensation at any level increased more than 40% from the previous level, he would not lend to the company or invest in it. The reason was simple. He felt that when the pay was skewed too heavily toward the top, it was inherently unfair and would cause the company to fail eventually.

Oberlin College fails Morgan’s test miserably

How does the pay structure of Oberlin College look using the test used by JP Morgan 120 years ago? JD is sure the answer to this question would be Don’t ask, don’t tell. Morgan knew that when cost-cutting was necessary, everyone from top to bottom had to share in it.

JD is a pro-business person but agrees wholeheartedly with the concepts behind JP Morgan’s test of fairness and organizational stability. JD also recognizes that there are many situations where workers have little choice but to form a union. It is hardly surprising that the BOT’s managerial stupidity over the years unionized the college and eventually generated massive labor and alumni discord.

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If you disagree…

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post a comment.

This blog warns Oberlin Alumni about the verbal prestidigitation and redactions in the COVID and Gibson’s Bakery stories. Please tell your fellow Obies how our college has damaged its reputation, the Gibsons, and the worth of our degrees. No pandemic, sleazy PR, or conflating of libel and slander with free speech can minimize the BOT’s negligence. Their elitism and compulsive behavior is eradicating funding for THOUSANDS of scholarships or 225 Steinway concert grand pianos. All done to destroy a tiny bakery!

Oberlin College and Controversy
The Oberlin College Series
Posted Mar 3, 2020 at 21:30. Revised Oct 11, 2020 at 19:25.
Retrieved Nov 26, 2020 at 07:15.
Copyright ©2020 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.

JD Nobody

JD Nobody, OC '61, has a 54-year career in developing software. This involved IT application design and maintenance, software engineering, bank operations, and article composing software for The Business Torts Reporter. He was an administrative officer and ICBM launch officer in the U.S. Air Force.
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Question: How is the Gibson family holding up financially? I read somewhere that before this debacle they were selling the College $500.00 worth of merchandise per day. That’s a big hit for a small business. Also i am sure student patronage is down. Any idea how much? Also, i am sure the family had signifigant expenses for David’s illness.

The college should end this indecency immediately. Even though they deserve every penny, perhaps they will accept 20 million, a 25 year contract, an apology and the firing of Meredith and all responsible minions.