Finks’ salary up 32 percent from 2006 to 2013

Finks salary up 32 percent from 2006 to 2013

Zack Lemon

According to IRS 990 forms, Fred Finks, Ashland University’s 28th president, saw his salary grow 32 percent from July 2006, when he took over as president, to May 31, 2013, which ended the last fiscal year with publically available financial records. In 2012-13, Finks’ base salary was $297,347, and his total compensation was $446,202. The total compensation figure equaled a 59.7 percent increase in the seven years since his first year as president.

Because Ashland University is a non-profit institution, it must file with the Internal Revenue Service a 990 form every year. These forms detail revenue and expenses of non-profits, and include salary information for the institutions highest-paid individuals. The most recent 990 form available for AU is the one covering fiscal year 2013, which ran from June 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013.

Finks said in an email that he did not receive or accept any raises during the times AU was making cuts. 

“I have not received anywhere near a 60 percent increase since I started,” he said. “I have never worked for money or seen it as a symbol of success.”

He added that he has given more than $250,000 to the university.

When contacted Tuesday, Lisa Miller, the president of the AU Board of Trustees, said she couldn’t comment on the increases because she didn’t have the numbers in front of her.

When Finks was hired in 2006, his base salary was $225,000, with a total compensation of $279,447. At the time, according to the 990 form, that included a housing and car allowance, a membership to the Ashland Country Club, retirement contributions and life insurance.

His total compensation increased $77,020 from his first year as president to the second, including a $10,125 salary increase. On the 2007-08 990 form, the additional compensation was broken down simply as “Benefits” and “Expense Account.” That year, Finks’ expense account totaled $52,534. On all tax forms from 2008-09 and later, additional compensation is broken down as other compensation, deferred compensation (also sometimes called retirement) and non-taxable benefits.

Finks took a slight total compensation cut from 2007-08 to 2008-09, losing $4,462. His salary remained essentially stagnant, rising from $235,125 to $236,549, a $1,424 increase. This was during an academic year that saw 48 staff members lose their jobs in November 2008.

Following this academic year, Finks saw another large increase in salary and compensation according to 990 reports. From 2008-09 to the 2009-2010 fiscal year, his salary rose to $248,117 and his total compensation rose to $379,844. No faculty or staff received raises after the 2008-09 year, but Finks salary increased 4.9 percent.

The following year, 2010-11, saw an even larger raise for Finks, as his salary jumped to $277,349, an 11.8 percent increase. His total compensation also increased to $422,136, an 11 percent increase in total compensation.

This increase in salary and total compensation preceded a financially disastrous 2011-2012 academic year, which was reported as an 11-month fiscal year. In a Board of Trustees Finance and Facilities Committee Report, Jim Kirtland, then the vice president of business affairs, said the 2011-12 operational budget had a $2.5 million deficit, which became short-term debt for the 2012-13 academic year. 

Moody’s Investor Service also began evaluating Ashland University’s credit rating in June 2012. AU’s credit was downgraded three times from September 2012 to November 2013, ending at Caa2, Moody’s third-lowest ranking.

While it appears on the IRS 990 forms from 2012-13 that Finks received a nearly $20,000 raise from the previous year, a closer examination shows that the 2011-12 fiscal year was only 11 months long. Thus, Finks’ $277,368 base salary in 2011-12 works out to about $302,583 over 12 months, a 9.1 percent increase over 2010-11.

That means that in 2012-13, when Finks’ base salary was $297,347, he took a 1.7 percent pay cut.  

Interim President William Crothers declined to say how much Finks was making as chancellor, acknowledging only that AU was paying two presidents this year.

The Collegian also asked Finks how much he was earning in salary as chancellor in an email, but Finks did not answer the question.

Finks did tell The Collegian that his salary is “nearly 10 percent under the average for our comparative schools.”

An analysis of the universities AU compared itself to when Finks was president, however, found that his salary in 2012-13 was 3.6 percent below the average salary of $308,132 a year, and his pay for the 2011-12 year was 2 percent lower. 

Finks’ total compensation, however, is above average when compared to the university’s benchmark institutions, according to IRS 990 forms. In 2012-13, Finks’ total compensation was $446,202, or 4.9 percent above the average from comparable schools. Obtaining a total compensation number for 2011-12 is difficult because of the university’s filing an 11-month fiscal year report. However, extrapolating the 11-month number out to a 12-month figure equals about $473,000, which would be 17 percent above the average for comparable schools.