Dye’s Leadership and Income Increase
following letter was sent to the mailboxes of College faculty and
staff on Sept. 6, 2002.]
the Members of the Oberlin College Community:
response to the interest expressed within the College community,
we are writing about the deferred compensation plan that the Board
of Trustees has unanimously adopted for President Nancy Dye. We
do this reluctantly because President Dye’s compensation,
like that of all other College staff and employees, is personal,
confidential information and because the compensation of Oberlin’s
President is historically and under the by-laws the exclusive responsibility
of the Board. Nevertheless, correcting possible misunderstandings
makes this message worthwhile.
The Board’s compensation program for the President has two
elements, a current portion and, now, a deferred portion. The current
portion is set annually by the Board based on annual evaluations
by the Board of the President’s performance. President Dye’s
excellent performance has justified current compensation that places
her among the most highly compensated executives in her peer group.
And the excellence of her leadership over an eight-year period satisfied
the Board that one of the most important things it could do for
the future of Oberlin College was to provide added reasons for President
Dye to remain here for a long period as the College’s President.
The deferred compensation plan, the result of two years of study
by the Board, is intended to do just that.
The ways in which President Dye’s leadership have enriched
and strengthened Oberlin College are well understood by this community.
But referring to some of the more significant quantifiable accomplishments
of her tenure in this context will show why the Trustees determined
it to be in Oberlin College’s clear best interests to strengthen
the incentives for Nancy Dye remaining here.
Under President Dye’s leadership Oberlin’s student body
has grown substantially stronger. Among other indicators the admissions
and yield data demonstrate this. And faculty salaries have become
significantly more competitive, while the faculty has continued
to excel in teaching and scholarship. Student-faculty ratios have
improved. All the while Oberlin has attained a gratifying improvement
in the performance of its endowment relative to its peer institutions.
And we are in the final phases of a major capital campaign that
will raise claim to twice the highest campaign total in Oberlin’s
President Dye has led Oberlin toward identifying the institutional
values and strategic directions articulated in the April 1997 publication,
Broad Directions for Oberlin’s Future. And in the fall of
1999, President Dye led the effort to direct Oberlin’s resources
to specific goals. The value of President Dye’s leadership
in this respect is especially clear now when Oberlin, like almost
all excellent liberal arts colleges, is dealing with repeated budget
cycles with the unwelcome effects of declining investment yields
and enormous cost increases in some budget categories. President
Dye’s leadership in planning has given us a clear sense of
direction and priorities.
President Dye’s leadership has given us a much sharper vision
of the priorities in capital projects. Her determination and skill
have rescued the Allen Memorial Art Museum, one of Oberlin’s
architectural and instructional gems, from advanced deterioration.
Her enthusiasm for and support of the environmental studies program
contributed greatly to the presence in Oberlin of one of the nation’s
most outstanding programs and facilities in that area. Within weeks
Oberlin will dedicate its new science facility, which along with
our excellent science faculty, will help Oberlin maintain its position
among the nation’s very best undergraduate science programs.
It is worth noting as well that under President Dye’s leadership
the College prevented a key piece of real estate in the business
district from passing to hands that could easily have put it to
uses that detract from the beauty of the Conservatory setting. Of
course, the town of Oberlin and the College continue to enjoy the
services of a community hospital due in substantial part to President
Dye’s recognition of the need and her creativity in devising
means to help meet it.
As President Dye moved into a period of service roughly comparable
to that of the heads of many institutions of higher education, the
Board became acutely aware that one of the most important steps
the Board could take to strengthen Oberlin was to create a strategy
for keeping President Dye here. The Board did this on its own initiative.
President Dye did not even hint the Board should do so. Nor did
she indicate in any way that she was thinking of leaving Oberlin.
The Board acted when it did because of the great value it places
on Nancy Dye’s leadership and because trying to design a special
incentive plan under the stimulus of possible departure is often
not the optimum environment in which to work on such matters.
The Board’s deferred compensation plan credits President Dye
with annual “notations” of $100,000 for up to a possible
period of ten years, which President Dye can earn by continuing
service as Oberlin’s president. The plan places President
Dye at the substantial risk of forfeiture. If she leaves Oberlin
in violation of the plan, she forfeits all the amounts then in the
plan. In view of the extraordinary demands of an Oberlin presidency
and the rare length of tenure that the Board was seeking to encourage,
the Board included two interim steps in the plan. At the end of
the plan’s sixth year (June 30, 2007), President Dye could
resign from Oberlin without forfeiture. A similar option is provided
for the end of the eighth year. Of course, at the end of the tenth
year, President Dye could leave Oberlin without forfeiture.
The Board is very pleased that it has completed its work on this
plan. President Dye clearly deserves the Board’s thanks and
support, which the plan is intended to convey. We hope it will provide
an appropriate additional incentive for President Dye to continue
in her leadership role at Oberlin.
Chair, Oberlin College Board of Trustees
Chair, Oberlin College Board of Trustees Ad Hoc Committee on Presidential