$250,000 bonus given to ex-Hopkins leader Richardson left university in June to head foundation

February 10, 1996|By David Folkenflik | David Folkenflik,SUN STAFF

After all the tributes and all the going-away parties, former Johns Hopkins University President William C. Richardson walked off campus last June with an additional parting gift for his five years in Baltimore -- a $250,000 bonus.

Dr. Richardson left Hopkins to become president of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Mich., the nation's second-largest philanthropy.

As Hopkins' president, he earned $337,048 in total pay, which includes salary and a housing allowance, for the academic year ending June 30, 1995.

That's the most recent year for which the school's tax returns are available. So Dr. Richardson's total compensation surpassed $587,000 -- more than any American university president received the previous year, according to a survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

In the public university sector, Dr. David J. Ramsey, president of the University of Maryland at Baltimore, earned the most in the state this year, with a total compensation of salary and housing and car allowances of $254,400.

Many academic administrators compare the pressures they face those in the corporate world, and Dr. Richardson was hailed for the way he managed the university, an operation that took in more than $1.58 billion in revenues last year.

He was perhaps most touted for his ability to raise money for the university, and the December 1994 announcement of his departure -- just after the public start to a $900 million drive -- startled and dismayed many former colleagues.

Morris W. Offit, chairman of the board of trustees, said Dr. Richardson's strong performance justified the decision to supplement his regular compensation.

"He just did exemplary work for Johns Hopkins and we wished to express in the strongest way our respect and gratitude for the services rendered to the university," Mr. Offit said. "He gave the university 18 hours a day, seven days a week."

The bonus is remarkable but not unprecedented. When Sheldon Hackney left the University of Pennsylvania to head the National Endowment for the Humanities, he was granted a bonus equivalent to an extra year's salary: $325,000, according to published reports.

"It absolutely caught me off guard," Dr. Richardson said yesterday of his bonus. "It came at a good time, because we were having trouble selling the house."

Typically, medical professors whose clinical work is totaled with their faculty pay make as much or more than senior academic administrators in a major research university like Johns Hopkins.

Medical school dean Michael E. Johns, at $366,000, and Dr. John Cameron, a senior Hopkins surgeon who made $539,000, earned more than Dr. Richardson's base salary last year.

The highest compensated employee of either the Johns Hopkins Hospital or the university was Dr. James A. Block, president of the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System. Dr. Block made $770,743.62 in the year ending June 30, 1994, according to the most recent tax records. (The hospital has not filed last year's returns.)

Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Hospital technically are separate not-for-profit corporations, which by law are required to make public certain tax documents.

Dr. Block's base salary was $550,000, said Diane M. Iorfida, Johns Hopkins Hospital's senior vice president for human resources. In addition, Dr. Block said, he received a $44,000 bonus and a one-time payment for compensation he lost by leaving his job at the University Hospitals of Cleveland. That compensation included a car, moving expenses, a life insurance policy and contribution to a retirement plan.

The average pay last year of presidents of doctorate-granting institutions was $154,000, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, but hospital officials tend to earn more than university executives. In part, a Hopkins hospital spokeswoman said, that is justified on the grounds they could earn more in the for-profit world.

Last year, for example, chief executive officers of the top 70 publicly traded firms in the health care market earned an average of $1.45 million, said Jenks Health Care Business Report in Atlanta.

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