Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Even since NYU's executive compensation practices became an issue during the February confirmation hearing for now Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew (as reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education, among others), Senator Charles Grassley has been seeking additional information regarding those practices. The N.Y. Times now reports that Senator Grassley is unhappy with the limited information provided by NYU and the restrictions it has placed on access to some of that information. The practices that have drawn Senator Grassley's ire include loans both for principal homes and summer homes of top administrators and star faculty and sizable severance payments. Of course while Senator Grassley constantly asserts that such generous benefits are inconsistent with nonprofit and tax-exempt status, the legal standard is not public perception but instead whether the total compensation received by the relevant individuals is reasonable when compared to the value of the salaries and other benefits provided to comparable individuals by comparable institutions. It is also far from clear whether Senator Grassley, as a minority member in the Democratic-controlled Senate, has any leverage other than his bully pulpit to force NYU to provide any information at all.