American diplomat and political scientist Henry Kissinger has been quoted as once pointing out that “academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small.” Well, that may or may not have been true in the past but the stakes in academia today can be huge, including in the U.S.
Tight budgets and growing international competition are causing many major U.S. medical institutes to increasingly perform like businesses to survive and thrive. As a result, the heads of many U.S. institutes are paid like those running some small and medium-sized companies.
Following is a list of 20 current or former senior executives of independent nonprofit research institutes, ranked by total compensation for the most recent two years such information was available as furnished by Form 990s filed annually by each institution with the Internal Revenue Service and made public through Guidestar.org and Foundation Center. In most cases, the most recent years available were fiscal years ending in 2012 and 2011. In some cases, new Form 990s covering periods ending in 2013 were available.
Unlike the Top 25 list published last year, this year’s top 20 list is limited to top day-to-day executives, to avoid the distortion of having numerous investment officers without scientific responsibilities fill the list because of pay spikes tied to the revival of the stock market over the past 18 months. These leaders are typically CEOs, presidents, or leaders who held both titles.
Total compensation for leaders of research institutes was mostly stable over the past year. Of 19 leaders whose total compensation could be compared year-over-year, only one saw it rise by greater than 10%, while three saw compensation reductions of 10% or more, including one who saw reduced responsibilities following the end of an affiliation agreement with another institution. Eleven saw their compensation rise up to 10%, while four saw theirs shrink by up to 10%. A year-to-year comparison was unavailable for one leader who took the helm of a research institute after arriving from an institution based overseas and not subject to similar reporting requirements.