Updated: May 25, 2021
BY REYNA IWAMOTO AND ALYSSA JURIS | STAFF WRITERS
Long Island University President Dr. Kimberly Cline was recently spotlighted by two major media outlets, which both focused on what seemed to be her disproportionately high “executive-compensation package.”
In response, her spokesman criticized coverage that he says “mischaracterized” Cline’s earnings.
On March 25, the Chronicle of Higher Education published data that listed the compensation of “more than 1,700 chief executives at more than 600 private colleges” and “nearly 290 public universities.”
For the year 2018, Dr. Cline was ranked 16th among the leaders of private universities, with a total compensation of $1,861,026. This placed her ahead of the presidents of Johns Hopkins, New York University, Yale, Stanford and Brown.
Less than a month later on April 10, the New York Post seized upon the Chronicle’s report, highlighted how many prominent universities ranked behind Cline, and noted how many LIU jobs have reportedly been cut during the pandemic.
Seawanhaka approached Dr. Cline for an interview, but instead her spokesmen produced a statement from Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Christopher Fevola:
“The President of Long Island University earns an annual salary that ranks much closer to the national average for private institutions than has been characterized by the media,” Fevola stated.
Of Dr. Cline’s total compensation for 2018, she received $853,897 in “base pay,” $120,510 in “non-taxable benefits,” and $886,619 in “other pay.” Part of this compensation was labeled as a deferred payment of $80,250 for “retirement.”
Fevola’s statement continued: “In 2018, Dr. Cline received a one-time deferred payment accrued over many years of service to the University, which is common for University leaders and executives in most every industry. This one-time payment that occurred three years ago does not accurately reflect her annual salary, which is far less than the reported amount, and on par with local, regional and national peer institutions.”
Later, LIU Associate Director of Communications Ryan Kelley responded further to the New York Post article, which he said “mischaracterized” the president’s earnings — especially with a headline that blared “Long Island University president’s pay puts her near the top in nation.”
The article even quoted an LIU professor as saying, “The board of trustees should be ashamed of itself for paying the president of LIU more than the president of Yale.”
However, as Kelley put it, “While the details are not inaccurate, the article and especially the headline frame it as though Dr. Cline is consistently earning in the top 20 among private university presidents, which is not true.”
That said, this is not the first time President Cline has received negative publicity.
In 2018, following administrative decisions that led to the dismissal of multiple professors, departmental consolidation and cuts to certain courses, an anonymous series of pamphlets were published and distributed across campus.
The pamphlets portrayed Dr. Cline as a “tyrannical queen” and also highlighted Dr. Cline’s salary. The LIU Post campus newspaper, the Pioneer, investigated the pamphlet, reporting that it contained “both true and exaggerated statements.”
On the other hand, Dr. Cline was honored at the start of 2021, as she was named to Schneps Media’s Power Women of Long Island list, celebrating women who are leaders in their fields and have incited influence and change. The president was also voted Best College President on Long Island for the Bethpage Best of Long Island 2021 Contest in early March.
Dr. Cline’s statement through Vice President Fevola praised her achievements: “During her time at LIU, Dr. Cline has been the driving force behind the University’s transformation into a nationally recognized institution with improved academic quality, a commitment to student affordability, groundbreaking research and the strongest finances in the University’s history.”
“Long Island University is proud of Dr. Cline’s innovative work and vision to accelerate the exceptional students on our campus,” the statement concluded.