Comptroller: Community College presidents’ compensation needs to be reined in

TRENTON – A report released today by the state Comptroller urges guidelines be established to rein in compensation for community college presidents.

According to the analysis, compensation for these presidents varies greatly, with several paying their presidents $300,000 a year.

Also varying greatly is the amount of expenses presidents charge the schools, according to the report.  They ranged from $648 paid by Sussex County Community College to $45,415 paid by Brookdale Community College.

The Comptroller reported that in addition to Brookdale, three other community colleges paid  more than $20,000 to cover such diverse costs as country club memberships and airfare for spouses.

“There are no state standards or guidelines for college trustees to rely on when setting compensation terms for their presidents,” Comptroller Matthew Boxer said in a release.

There are 19 community colleges in New Jersey serving a total of 260,000 students and the colleges’ funding comes mainly from tuition, state aid and county taxes.

Other findings:

*Seventeen of them made annual contributions to their president’s retirement fund that exceeded the 8 percent amount required by state statute, the report stated.

*The Essex County College president used the college credit card to send each of the 11 trustees a holiday gift basket at a cost totaling $550 as well as to expense a $570 dinner for her and her staff.

“If community college presidents want to treat their staff to a pricey dinner, they should do that out of their own pocket, not with public dollars,’’ Boxer said.

*Brookdale college paid $27,382 for its president’s children to attend four universities and an additional $13,375 to compensate the president for the resultant income tax liability from those reimbursements.

*Bergen County Community College’s president used the college credit card to make $28,000 in purchases.

*Burlington County College paid its president $25,000 for unused vacation days.

Among other things, the Comptroller recommended these solutions:

*The state Secretary of Higher Education should set out guidelines that foster uniformity.

*Presidents should submit itemized receipts for reimbursement.

*Each college should post on its website its president’s employment contract and annual expense information.

Comptroller: Community College presidents’ compensation needs to be reined in