College Presidents Pay, Why is it So Hard to Find?

State law (MCLA 388.1618) requires that each public school include on its transparency page a listing of those employees whose salary exceeds $100,000. Typically superintendents and a few others qualify. This reflects a long-standing public policy determination that the public deserves to know about highly paid employees.

Probably due to superior lobbying, state law does not require the same for community colleges. (State law requires that universities actually post every employee’s pay, including their presidents.)

To determine the salary of a community college administrator, one must apparently hope for a press report. For example, Southwestern Michigan College President David Mathews was the subject of a 2010 press report:

SMC News.jpg

When the SMC Board of Trustees increased his salary in 2010, it included an automatic 3% yearly increase that would result in a 2018 salary of $180,550. But trusting press reports doesn’t ensure the truth is getting out.

SMC’s fundraising arm, the Southwestern Michigan Foundation, must file yearly tax returns, which include the pay of its board members. President Mathew serves on this board.

Its 2015 IRS 990 federal return includes his compensation:

SMC 990.jpg

It is not known why his compensation reported above differs so markedly from the $325,785 total shown here. But it’s clear, there’s no justification for the lack of transparency for Michigan’s community college presidents.


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