Paul Smith’s leaders freeze their wages

The Joan Weill Adirondack Library at Paul Smith’s College is seen Monday.
(Enterprise photo — 
Aaron Cerbone)

The Joan Weill Adirondack Library at Paul Smith’s College is seen Monday. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

PAUL SMITHS — As Paul Smith’s College faces low enrollment this school year, several members of the college’s administration have frozen their wages and, in a few cases, taken pay cuts.

They also eliminated two staff positions, according to Chief Marketing Officer Shannon Oborne. She did not specify which two.

Around July it became apparent to the Senior Leadership Team, essentially the president’s cabinet, that despite the high number of applications the college received, enrollment was not going to be as high as the private, tuition-funded college faced its first semester competing with the Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship Program, which guarantees free tuition for many students at state colleges.

“The Excelsior Scholarship, frankly, just accelerated the process we’ve already been fighting,” Oborne said in September.

Twenty-eight percent of potential students who had completed every part of the application process up to that point were not sending in deposits for their enrollment, and the college enrolled 771 students this year, down from 892 in 2014.

“As a leadership team we got together and really focused on, ‘What are we going to do to address what is obviously going to be a budget deficit?'” Oborne said.

Part of that decision-making process was for the Senior Leadership Team members to freeze their own wages, cutting themselves out of a 2 percent cost-of-living increase the rest of the organization received, according to Oborne. Some members have also agreed to take voluntary pay cuts, she said.

The Senior Leadership Team is comprised of college President Cathy Dove, Oborne, Vice President of Academics Nicholas Hunt-Bull, Vice President of Finance and Administration Martin Hanifin, Vice President of College Advancement F. Raymond Agnew, Vice President of Enrollment Management Peter Burns and Vice President of Student Affairs and Campus Life Terry Lindsay.

As a nonprofit organization, Paul Smith’s must list on its federal Form 990 the compensation for its officers and other key employees. Dove, the college’s highest paid employee, made $322,000 in 2015, her first full year on the job and the most recent available. In 2013, prior President John Mills’s last full year at the college, he made $257,000, that year’s form shows.

Managing Editor Peter Crowley contributed research to this report.

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