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The GW Hatchet

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Knapp’s salary inches past $1 million mark

Correction appended

University President Steven Knapp’s salary surpassed the $1 million mark for the first time in fiscal year 2010, landing him in the top-paid tier of university presidents nationwide.

Knapp earned $905,277 plus $148,359 in other benefits, according a financial disclosure document GW files to the IRS – a University spokeswoman Candace Smith said a Board of Trustees compensation committee determined the salary using information from an independent consulting firm, which included data from comparable universities and took Knapp’s skills and experience into account.

Knapp’s salary is ultimately approved by the Board.

“The GW president is typically among our top paid presidents,” Chronicle of Higher Education compensation reporter Andrea Fuller said.

Knapp is the highest-paid president among private colleges in the District, according to the most recent available data. In 2008, the presidents of American University and Georgetown University made $760,774 and $911,613 respectively.

The Chronicle of Higher Education annually lists salaries of university presidents. The most recent data available is for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, but if Knapp’s salary was compared to those figures, he would be the 27th highest-paid president at a private university.

Just 30 university presidents received compensation topping $1 million in 2008, according to a 2010 report by the Chronicle, although when administrators are granted one-time lump sum payouts while leaving their positions, the figure inflates.

A Washington Post story published in November estimated the number of all college presidents who are compensated more than $1 million is actually half of one percent.

Also among the university presidents compensated over $1 million are those at GW’s market basket schools, including Boston University, Syracuse University and New York University.

The Internal Revenue Service redesigned the financial disclosure form, called the Form 990, in 2008 to increase transparency, including new requirements to disclose nontaxable benefits. The $94,859 recorded on the 2009 form includes Knapp’s University-owned residence on F Street, his health benefits and both life and disability insurance.

A constant on GW’s form – it lists the institution’s highest paid administrators – for the past two decades was former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, who stepped down July 31, 2007 after almost two decades as University president.

Trachtenberg graced the form again for 2009, earning $623,165 plus more than $30,000 in benefits for his role as a professor.

“Former President Trachtenberg’s reportable W-2 compensation includes his annual base compensation as a University Professor as well as other compensation, including consulting payments during the transition in the presidency of the university, employee retirement contributions and taxable life/disability insurance,” Smith said.

GW paid Trachtenberg a total of $3,578,566 plus $86,003 in benefits at the end of 2007 for deferred compensation from his tenure as president, a move that irked alumni and gave Trachtenberg the top spot on most presidential pay lists.

Former men’s basketball coach Karl Hobbs made more than $500,000 in 2009, according to the disclosure form, making him the University’s eight highest-paid employee when benefits are included.

This post was updated June 7, 2013 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Knapp’s salary surpassed the $1 million mark in fiscal year 2009. It was fiscal year 2010.

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