• Lillie Burke

The $1.2-million man

President Bob Fisher is one of the highest-paid private university presidents in the country, raking in $1,119,690 in the 2012 fiscal year, according to public tax forms.

His total compensation increased 13.5 percent from his $968,435 salary as reported in the 2011 fiscal year.

The fiscal year runs from June 1 to May 31.

Fisher’s salary started with a base pay of $819,021. He also earned $141,268 in bonuses and $222,863 in deferred compensation to retirement or other funds. Additionally, he made $16,538 in nontaxable benefits.

“The Board unanimously agrees that he’s worth more than the standard,” said Marty Dickens, chairman of the Belmont Board of Trustees. Fisher is an employee of the Board of Trustees.

“We believed in his vision and his dream when he came in 2000 and he has accomplished more than we could have envisioned,” Dickens said.

Dickens said compensation increases are based on accomplishments and meeting objectives set by the Board and there is no set formula.

Belmont and Fisher’s financial information is all publicly available online in the IRS Form 990 which nonprofits are required to file.

In 2012, Belmont collected $218,228,923 in total revenue before expenses, a 22 percent increase from $192,433,979 revenue the year before.

Of that revenue, $5,016,244 was allocated toward pay for officers, directors and key employees, according to the forms. Fisher accounted for 22 percent of the total compensation fund.

Excluding men’s basketball coach Rick Byrd, who is reported to have made $709,101 in 2012, Fisher is paid more than the next three key employees combined. These men included Provost Thomas Burns, Dean of the Massey School of Business Dr. James Raines and the former dean of the Belmont College of Law Jeffrey Kinsler.

Student Government Association member Cole Thannisch said that he has no problem with Fisher’s salary.

“Students can complain about him being paid so much,” Thannisch, a junior, said. “And how we need more scholarships, but those two things aren’t related.”

Fisher is one of 42 private college presidents to make more than $1 million. The highest paid private college president was Robert Zimmer of the University of Chicago, earning $3,580,723 in total in 2011, according to an article in the Huffington Post.

Fisher is currently paid more than the presidents of both Princeton–$859,413–and Harvard–$770,887– who occupy the first and second spots on U.S. News and World Report’s rankings of the best national universities in 2012, respectively. Belmont cracked the top five best regional universities in the South this past year in the same rankings.

Fisher made approximately 11 times more than the average teacher at Belmont in 2012.

In 2012, Lipscomb University president L. Randolph Lowry III earned $231,975 and Trevecca University president Dan Boone accrued $169,035. Vanderbilt’s chancellor Nicholas Zeppos was reported to have made $1,130,518 in 2012.

Fisher became president of Belmont in 2000 and has drummed up millions of dollars worth of donations to the school since.

Thannisch says the Board sees Belmont as a business and that it should be run as such.

“Ultimately, the Board is the one in charge,” Thannisch said.

During his tenure, Fisher has also seen enrollment increase by nearly 60 percent and the addition of the Belmont College of Law along with 15 new academic and residential buildings.

“He was brought to to this university to expand it and he’s done his job,” Thannisch said.

Since 2009, tuition revenue has increased by 31.3 percent while tuition itself has increased by 13 percent since 2011.

According to the same article from the Huffington Post, the median compensation for private university presidents is around $410,000.

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