Knox’s presidents have been paid much lower than most other presidents in the Associated Colleges of the MidwestÑeven considering that when President Teresa Amott took the position in 2011 she was reported to receive nearly $100,000 more than her predecessor.
However, according to IRS documents filed for 2015, Amott’s salary was set at $293,426, which was a slight reduction from 2013, when she received $294,533. Amott was out of town and unavailable to speak with TKS.
IRS documents also revealed that Amott’s salary lies 32 percent below the average presidential salary within the ACM, which amounts to nearly $430,498, and is a five percent decrease from previous years.
But when comparing Amott’s salary to others within the ACM, such as Grinnell or Macalester, with salaries set at $642,212 and $756,458 respectively, the gaps are hard to ignore. In some ways, the differences can be linked to Knox’s endowment, which is significantly smaller.
“The endowment correlates to the expense structure of the college. I would say in schools where the endowment is richer, where you have a larger endowment, salaries can be higher,” Keith Archer, Vice President of Finance, said. Archer also pointed to other factors that can lead to larger salaries, such as the size of the student body, market position of the college as well as the market for employment.
Archer said that Knox’s endowment has grown exponentially from 66 million to 124 million within the past 10 years. Though there was a slight reduction between the 2015 and 2016 years due to flat market and investment returns, where stock markets underperformed causing the college to not earn as much in investment income, Archer is hopeful for the future.
“The good news is that the endowment is continuing to grow. When you look from 66 million to 124, that’s encouraging,” Archer said.
Chair of the Board of Trustees Richard Riddell ‘72 argued that the endowment and salaries such as the president’s are two separate entities. According to Riddell, the salaries for the president and other faculty members are affected more by the competitiveness of the market rather than whether or not the endowment does well that year or not.
“With the president’s salary or the faculty salary, we are mindful of how the salary scales at Knox compare to that of competitive institutions,” Riddell said. “We need to be careful that our salaries are competitive to the greatest extent possible given the financial situation.” He also mentioned that when the board makes the final decisions for the salaries, they examine data from other institutions.
One strategy the board tends to use when setting the salary for the president is to look at the rankings in terms of compensations, such as where the president and faculty member’s compensations lie.
Riddell said that the board generally tries to keep the president and the faculty salaries at the same levels. For example, if Knox set the faculty member’s salaries within the 50th percentile, then they would try to keep the president’s salary within the same percentile.