University statement on presidential compensation

The University of Chicago released the following statement on Dec. 15, 2013 in response to questions about presidential compensation:

As president of the University of Chicago, Robert J. Zimmer is responsible for one of the world’s great research universities, which includes a comprehensive academic medical center, as well as the operation of three affiliated laboratories with global reach. Together, these enterprises employ nearly 25,000 faculty and staff and have a combined annual budget of $4.9 billion.

Since President Zimmer joined the University in 2006, the University has launched several major new academic programs, including its Institute for Molecular Engineering. It has opened or begun work on University centers in Beijing, Delhi and Hong Kong, and established a new affiliation with the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The University has catalyzed $250 million in neighborhood investment, partnered with the City of Chicago on major programs in education and crime prevention, and created a new Innovation Exchange to support entrepreneurship and business development. Applications to the College have tripled, and University fundraising and alumni engagement have reached record levels. Financial aid to all students also has increased significantly, including a doubling of the University’s financial aid budget for undergraduates to more than $100 million, greatly increased financial support for graduate students, and a reduction of average indebtedness among College students upon graduation.

The Compensation Committee of the University Board of Trustees reviews presidential compensation annually, with data and guidance from an outside consultant who compares similar roles at 20 peer institutions. The Compensation Committee makes a recommendation to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, which makes final decisions on the compensation. This process is in accordance with University by-laws and with IRS standards. President Zimmer’s compensation is consistent with leaders of institutions of similar scale and caliber.

The University’s 2011 IRS 990 form reflects payments to President Zimmer that include one-time deferred compensation that was earned over several years. Deferred compensation is a common part of compensation packages for university presidents. Under IRS regulations, deferred compensation is reported at least twice — when it is earned, and again when it vests.

Following is a statement by Andrew M. Alper, chair of the University Board of Trustees:

Bob Zimmer’s compensation reflects the high degree of confidence the Board has in his leadership at a crucial moment in the University’s history. The University has built extraordinary momentum by supporting the work of our scholars and students at the highest level, building on a tradition of eminence in research, learning and engagement.