Chapman pays top earners in the millions, tax return shows

Chapman pays its top earners considerably more than comparable schools in Southern California. Wylie Aitken, chair of Chapman’s Board of Trustees, said the high pay is to secure “the finest talent.” Graphic by Emma Reith

The university compensates more than Occidental College, Loyola Marymount University and other schools

Chapman compensates its five top-paid employees considerably more than comparable schools like Loyola Marymount University, Santa Clara University and Occidental College, according to tax returns reviewed by The Panther.

Documents reveal that the highest salaries paid at Chapman ranged from $534,139 to $1,603,291 in the 2017 to 2018 fiscal year. Those who earned the highest salaries are President Emeritus Jim Doti, President Daniele Struppa, Executive Vice President of University Advancement Sheryl Bourgeois, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Harold Hewitt and Vernon Smith, an endowed professor of economics and law. All of the top earners deferred The Panther to Wylie Aitken, chair of Chapman’s Board of Trustees, for comment.

“We do clear studies of other institutions and outside consultants and we want to make sure we are competitive with them. We want to recruit people and keep them,” Aitken said.

The incomes of the top five paid at Loyola Marymount University ranged from $354,092 to $570,826 for the 2017 to 2018 fiscal year. The top earner was the men’s basketball coach, Michael Dunlap.
The incomes at Chapman factor in the responsibilities of the employees and aim to secure “the finest talent,” Aitken said. Income is also based on who has been at Chapman the longest and the experience that the faculty has.

“We want to make sure to make the compensation to those individuals appropriate for the skill that they bring to the university,” he said.

At Occidental College, the top five salaries ranged from $212,149 to $603,898 for 2015 to 2016. At Santa Clara University, salaries ranged from $424,768 to $793,155. The top earner at Occidental College was the president. The top earners at Santa Clara University were the assistant treasurer and the chief investment officer.

The Board of Trustees oversees the money students pay and how it is spent, Aitken said. Right now, Chapman has an endowment of more than $400 million and aims to reach $1 billion by 2029.

“The success of the school is based on the leadership,” Aitken said. “The relationship of the top five (incomes) has to do with the success of the institution itself, which is good news. Our people are in demand, so we want to keep the people we have by making sure they are paid their value.”