Webster University’s tax forms reveal financial bonuses, ‘eye-opening’ for students


Newly released tax documents reveal Webster University President Elizabeth Stroble received a $75,000 bonus during the 2013 tax year, which began on Jan. 1 and ended Dec. 31. Tax forms obtained by The Journal on April 16 show university Provost Julian Schuster received a $45,000 bonus. The tax documents, known as the 990 tax forms, revealed the earnings of the top 10 highest compensated individuals among current and former Webster employees.

Stroble earned $500,174 total, which included her salary, bonus, reportable compensation, retirement and nontaxable benefits. While her base salary increased by $5,219, Stroble’s bonus decreased by $10,000 from the previous fiscal year. Schuster’s compensation totaled $357,177. His base salary increased by $2,145 while his bonus was consistent with the previous fiscal year.

Susan Polgar, head coach and grandmaster of the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE), received a total compensation of $280,626, including a $75,000 bonus.

Greg Gunderson, the university’s chief financial officer, received a total compensation of $221,448. While Gunderson and Laura Rein, then the university’s secretary during the 2013-14 fiscal year, received bonuses during the previous fiscal year, they did not receive bonuses this year. However, both received higher base salaries. Rein’s base increased by $3,403 while Gunderson’s increased by $11,605.

According to the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, the salaries of senior administrators of private institutions rose nationally by 2.3 percent. Webster’s tax documents report that Stroble’s base salary increased  by one percent while Schuster’s increased by 0.8 percent.

The only administrator whose salary increase was above the national average was Gunderson’s at 6.6 percent.

The tax forms show Benjamin Akande, dean of the George Walker School of Business and Technology, received total compensation of $282,116, a slight dip from the previous year. Neil George, Webster’s former chancellor, received total compensation of $244,609.

Not all administrators received increases. Akande and George both received smaller base salaries. George’s salary decreased by $59,077 (-22 percent) while Akande’s decreased by $4,503 (around -2 percent).

Webster reactions

In a statement to The Journal, the university said the salaries of the administration were validated by several studies which included Mercer, Sibson Consulting and C-Biz Consulting. The salaries, the university wrote, are in line with the average salaries of executive administrators at other private, non-profit universities of similar size to Webster.

Despite studies validating the salaries, international relations major Hannah Graf said she was upset when she learned  of Webster administrators’ pay.

“I understand that they work at the top level of the university, and it’s a private university. But it’s a non-profit university,” Graf said.

In the statement to The Journal, the university said the additional compensation received by some administrators was based on individual performances and the achievement of university goals. The statement did not disclose the goals administrators achieved to receive additional compensation.

Graf said she thought the money for a bonus should only be granted if the university is doing well financially and not experiencing financial struggles, like budget shortfalls.

“If (Stroble) is here working for a non-for-profit university, it seems like some of that money should be recycled in until (the university) is actually making a profit, and then she can get that bonus,” Graf said.

Terri Reilly, a Webster adjunct professor in the Communications Department, said Webster is a teaching institution, and the university needs to focus attention toward the classroom.

“If we have money to pay bonuses, to be opening campuses, then the university and the administration needs to look at priorities and refocus them on the classroom and how they’re benefitting the students,” Reilly said.

Jenna Hopkins, a political science major, said the information of the tax documents is eye-opening and disheartening. She did not want to say the individuals are not deserving.

“I’m sure they have a taxing job as well. But as students, I’m paying a lot of money to go to school here, and I want to make sure that money is being used (efficiently) and that it is giving people a good education and all the opportunities that I have been able to have — not dishing it back out to administration,” Hopkins said.

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