V.P. of Institutional Adv. Robert Wile Leads in Salary


Robert Wile, in his role as senior Vice President of institutional advancement and chief of staff to the president, was compensated significantly more than administrators in comparable roles in seven other Catholic schools, a Torch investigation found.

In 2010, the last year for which tax statements are publicly available, Wile made $549,368 in total compensation during his fifth year in the position, nearly $190,000 more than Seton Hall’s Joseph Sandman, the next highest earning Vice President of institutional advancement.

The Torch compared Wile’s compensation to comparable positions at the other six Catholic schools in the current Big East. The average total compensation for Wile’s position in those schools, according to tax returns, was $320,222 in 2010 – $229,146 less than Wile’s compensation in that same year.

Elizabeth Reilly, director of media relations, declined to specifically address Wile’s compensation in comparison to other schools.

“Without commenting on any individual’s specific compensation, the University compares salaries to a broad set of other private doctoral institutions and other national not-for-profits,” she said. “In addition, the University uses an external compensation expert to assist with this benchmarking.”

An enigmatic figure at the University after recent NY Magazine reports detailing a trip to the Caribbean and secret loans from trustees and University contractors, Wile has drawn scrutiny internally for his accelerated climb through the administration since he graduated from St. John’s in 1999. Wile, a former scholarship soccer player, was the highest compensated active non-athletics employee at the University in 2010.

Wile also out-earned his predecessor, David Wegrzyn, currently at Providence College, by $243,969. Wegrzyn moved to Providence in 2006 after 14 years at St. John’s. Wile was promoted to acting vice president of institutional advancement following his departure; the move was made permanent in 2008.

When compared to the other Vincentian universities in the U.S., DePaul and Niagara, Wile earned more than double the average of their compensations, according to tax returns.

Donald Bielecki, the vice president of institutional advancement at Niagara at the time, earned $153,500 in the 2010 fiscal year – nearly $400,000 less than Wile in that same time frame. Bielecki had been working at the university in this role since 2002, and previously held a similar role at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for 10 years.

The senior Vice President for advancement at DePaul, Mary C. Finger, earned a total compensation of $350,367 in 2010, her fifth year at DePaul, nearly $200,000 less than Wile. She previously worked for nine years in a similar position at Mount St. Mary College in New York.

Cynthia Lawson, vice president for public relations and communications at DePaul, explained their process for establishing salaries via email.

“Salaries are determined using a variety of factors: experience, breadth and scope of job responsibilities, individual salary and benefit negotiations with prospective administrators, and what the marketplace commands for these types of high-level positions here in any given locale (e.g. Chicago).”

Salaries at schools in metropolitan areas such as New York City, Chicago and Washington D.C. are commonly higher than smaller cities such as Providence and Buffalo, where Niagara is located.

Among the administrators in comparable positions at the Catholic universities the Torch looked at, Wile also is the only one without a graduate degree.

Seton Hall’s Sandman, the next highest earning Vice President of institutional advancement in 2010, for example, has his doctorate and masters degrees and more than 35 years of experience in Catholic higher education, according to an archived version of his biography on the Seton Hall website.

University officials told the Torch last month that, in addition to comparing salary levels to other schools, the salaries of the highest paid employees are approved through the audit and compensation committee and presented to the board of trustees for a vote.

St. John’s reported the balance of its endowment fund in 2010 at $313,565,230, according to its tax return; that ranks fifth among the seven Catholic schools in the current Big East.

According to his biography on the St. John’s website, Wile “is responsible for the offices of community relations, corporate and foundation relations, government relations, media relations and University events.”

In his role as chief of staff, he also “functions as the principal liaison between the president and all constituencies and provides oversight for the Office of the President and the other executive offices of the University.”