Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What's the problem with openness and transparency on compensation?

My dear alma mater, University of Georgia, has an enrollment of above 35,000 students and a payroll of over 10,000 employees. The head guy, Michael Adams, makes around $650,000 per year.

My friend David Montoya, who prefers the third person designation of Spiritual Samurai, notes that the president of Dallas Baptist University, a private school with an enrollment somewhere around 5,000 students and 125 or so faculty, made around $850,000 for the most recent year. It may be that his annual compensation is much less. Perhaps he was given a house or something after years of tenure. Details haven't been made public. Sensible Texas Baptists have defended DBU's pay for their CEO. Fair enough.

UGA gets some of my tax dollars, so I have a monetary interest in Adams. DBU doesn’t so I’m just an outside observer for whatever happens there.

Check the comment stream, people like Montoya and myself are invariably criticized for even asking about the compensation of our Southern Baptist entity employees. “None of your business” we’re told.

Well...sez who? Why isn't it our business?

I don’t hear anyone making a good argument against Baptists being open and transparent about what we pay our people.

Who would be harmed if full disclosure, like public corporations and universities, were the rule? Would our CEOs be harmed? The only way I can see that they would be harmed is if they were grossly overpaid, an assumption I have never made about any of our SBC people.

[Slightly edited by William]


Anonymous said...

You might want to check the facts a little closer before quoting Montoya. There are dimensions to the salary quoted for the DBU President that need to pointed out before jumping to some conclusion.

After reading all you bloggers wanting transparency I just wonder why you would ever join a church that lets committees set salaries. If you want transparency, find a church that practices what you like and join it but don't go into a church and start a bunch of trouble. If that's what they want, that's their prerogative.

Just because someone claims to be a Southern Baptist doesn't necessarily entitle them to know every aspect of someone's salary if the organization is structured where the trustees or some committee sets the salaries.

Again, if you don't like it either get the votes to change it or don't join. But quit griping about it all the time.

Anonymous said...

Personally I prefer a church where the salaries are set by a committe or the elders. I don't want every nut case in the church standing up at a business meeting and complaining that the preacher makes too much money. Since that is my preference, that is the kind of church I attend and love it. You others are more than welcome to go to a church where you can fuss and fight in the business meetings that I'm sure you demand.

David Montoya said...


Don't you just love people who hide behind the word anonymous. I wonder if they are as bold in their witness for our Lord as well? I also wonder if anonymous is one of those folks who are making their living off of the cooperative program dole?

Some of the people in Texas whose compensation is now being posted were the first to criticize what NAMB paid Bob Record and Paige Patterson's lifestyle in Texas (and no I am not defending Patterson nor Record). I am just amazed at the hypocrisy.

What is really scary, with all the Scripture teaches about seeking wealth, these folks think these obscene compensation packages are OK.

It is my opinion, what anonymous and others are afraid of is that the churches will say enough is enough and cut off the funding (which I believe they should).

Norm said...

Anonymous: ... check the facts ... There are dimensions to the salary ... that need to pointed out ....

Norm: From the 2009 IRS 990, consider the following:

Base compensation: $380,947
Bonus & incentive compensation: $51,016
Other compensation: $361,496
Deferred compensation: $25,000
Nontaxable benefits: $34,666
Total: $853,125

It is possible compensation may not be this high in subsequent years (see the explanations for these figures in the report), but both Anonymous and Montoya have a point: Anonymous in that it is a bit more complex than “SSS a year”; Montoya in that “could you say a bit more?” But, when it comes to executive salaries at colleges and universities, it is a difficult claim to make that a ‘sponsoring’ agency has a right to know all given that by far most of the college’s/university’s funding comes from other sources, not from the ‘sponsoring’ agency. Such, however, is not the case with SBC agencies or individual churches.

Having said that:

One: It is one thing for a committee to set salary.

Two: It is another that the body has neither oversight over nor knowledge of said committee decisions.

While there are practical concerns as to functioning in which decision-making is empowered and decisions may be reached in a reasonable amount of time, as I recall, historically baptist churches practice congregational governance in which the ultimate authority rests with the body. For some time, it has also been assumed that many practices at the local level are appropriate at state and national levels. If they are not, then trustees need to make this clear and potential candidates to executive positions in these agaencies need to be asked, by whatever means are available for asking, their view on said policy.

William said...

Anonymous, you are welcome to point out the "dimensions" in the DBU president's salary. I said that "sensible Texas Baptists have defended the salary. Fair enough." No one has denied the figure though.

Your references to (a) local church affairs, and, (b) trustee rights to keep things secret are irrelevant to this discussion. I haven't argued that trustees don't have such legal authority and local church business isn't a part of this discussion.

Do you desire make a case against disclosure of SBC entity head compensation or are you content to rail against me for raising the question?

There may be sufficient and good reasons for secrecy. Make a case.

Anonymous said...

If we're only talking about SBC entity heads, then I agree that the salaries should be published. Since we're not discussing church procedures, I think that's fine.

If I found out that the President of Howard Payne University, Hardin-Simmons University, or Mary Hardin Baylor was making as much as Dr. Cook I would be calling the chairman of the board. I doubt seriously that they make that kind of money.

And yes, I post anonymously because its my God-given right to not have certain bloggers attacking everything I say.

Bob Allen said...

The IRS requires tax-exempt non-profits, including Baptist colleges and universities, to report financial information, including CEO salaries. For purposes of tax exemption, SBC agencies are considered a church and thereby not required to file an IRS 990 form. I always found that odd as a matter of polity.

foxofbama said...

How much does Ed Young make a year, full package and everything?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... Personally I prefer a church where the salaries are set by a committe or the elders.

I would rather deal with the nut jobs asking salary questions at business meetings. A few years ago, I received a call from a desperate church member (not in Texas or Oklahoma) seeking assistance in learning his pastors total salary. It seems the pastor through “divine revelation” learned that 10% of the churches receipts should be his salary.

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem with overcoming nut jobs in the church is to be sure they aren't the pastor, an elder, a deacon, a committee member--or alas, even a church member. But then we don't have anyone left do we? A person who gives nothing to their church does not have an inherent right to see the pastor's salary package or anything else financial.

Anonymous said...

Since some of you guys are really good at finding out what someone makes could you tell me how much the Presidents of the other Baptist schools in Texas make. If its too much, I want to cut back on my giving this Sunday.