“One Never Knows, Do One?”

 

Fats Waller was a famous jazz pianist and singer of the 1930’s. He was also a comedian who was famous for his malapropisms. He was doing Yogi Berraisms before Yogi dreamed of playing baseball for the New York Yankees. Waller’s most famous one-liner was: “One never knows, do one?” When dealing with the postings on the so-called Erskine alums Facebook site, Fats Waller’s famous malapropism of “One never knows, do one?” is an appropriate description of some of the postings.

The following is a verbatim posting by Mr. Jay West on 12/2 in which he attacked Mr. Greg Haselden, Erskine VP and CFO, and Dr. David Norman, Erskine President:

Dear Alumni,

Please visit the website posted below:

http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2009/570/314/2009-570314390-05f862a8-9.pdf

What will you find? The Income tax filling of Erskine College from 2008, which is made public by entities within academia. Why is this important? In the past seven years faculty have only received a small pay increase twice. Yet, more disturbing is the inequity in the amount of salaries paid to Erskine Vice Presidents.

The published amounts are as follows:

Randy Ruble- Apprx. $170,000– he gave most of it back.

Greg Haselden- Apprx. $136,000

Neeely Gaston- Apprx. $110,000- he tithes to the institution

Don Weatherman Apprx. $122,000- plus house

Monty Wooley- Apprx. $87,000

Woody O’Cain Apprx. $62,000

My question is simply this, how does the VP of Finance make $136,000 a year and the two Executive Vice Presidents make less than he does? Worse than that, the VP of Finance made almost $50,000 more than Wooley and Patterson, and twice as much as O’Cain. No offense to Mr. Haselden, but his role is mostly advisory. Mr. James Barnes CPA, and Comptroller, handles most, if not all of the accounts payable and receivable. Not only so, but the business office has Martha Wood, Sara, Hope and others supporting the office. I wonder what they are making?

There is a terrible inequity in the salaries of the intituional officers. I understand the Dean of the College and the Dean of the Seminary making the next two highest salaries to the President due to their enormous responsibility, but not the VP of Finance.

Better yet, I would hope that faculty positions and salaries will not be cut in light of the unusally high salaries. As well, my research has confirmed that President Norman’s package is approximately $210,000 plus a house. He makes more than most other presidents in SC at a smaller school. No offense to David Norman, but what in the world was the board thinking in paying someone with very limited experience that high of a salary. Remember, he has never even held an adminstrative position in academia.

As alumni, I hope that we will all voice our concerns over the inequity among the pay of administrators, the unusual high presidential salary, the lack of faculty pay increases, and the cost of tuition. Erskine has always been a place where the faculty and staff served because of calling and passion- not salary. Think of Jimmy Knight, Bill Lesesne, Dick halderman, Monty Wooley, Lee Logan, jeannie McDill, Dot Carter. These people have done more than I could ever dream of doing. This is wrong!

Mr. David Dangerfield is the site’s moderator. He was either uncomfortable with Mr. West’s post or asked to remove the post or both. The post was removed and then re-posted. The following is a second attack (12/4) by Mr. West that is aimed at Dr. Norman:

David Dangerfield was aslked to take down my recent post in a conference call this morning with Erskine Administration. However, what I recently posted is public knowledge and can be found on page 17 on the site linked above.

My purpose was simply to demonstrate the inequality in dministration pay and protect faculty and staff from cuts when those at the top are making exhorbitant salaries. PROTECT THE FACULTY AND STAFF

The only salary that is not listed on the site is that of Dr. David Norman, whose package is approximately $210,000, plus the president’s house. I will stand by my opinion that his salary is out of line in comparison to other college presidents who have much more experience. Dr. Norman has never even served as a college administrator.

Second, the VP of Finance is making 137,000 plus, which is more than both the Dean of the College and the Dean of the Seminary.

Third, EC students should not expect an increase in tuition if the dministration is making those kinds of salaries. PROTECT THE STUDENTS.

Finally, for those of you wondering about my tenure at Erskine, I was making $84,000 a year when I left, and I had 14 years experience.

Fact is fact. My wife, who is a teacher has her salary posted online every year and in the newspaper. Why are we afraid to talk about this?

Then Mr. West added the Erskine Chaplain, Rev. Paul Patrick, to his attack list (12/4):

Below is a posted letter from Paul Patrick, Erskine Chaplain, to Chuck Wilson on ARPTalk [http://www.arptalk.org/2010/11/18/arptalk-correction/]. The event being referenced with 417 people needs even more clarity. The people in attendance were mostly people from around the community with their family and friends, church groups etc. Most of the EC student body was not in attendance.

This event was in essence a PR event, staged to demonstrate numbers at “The Barn.” Notice that the clariication does not include who the people actually were that were in attendance. Have a Bar-B-Que in the country and everyone will show up. Just not the EC student body. Read the letter carefully.

Interestingly, there was not a flurry of postings to Mr. West’s posts. However, Dr. Norman did respond with two posts (12/4):

Thanks for the pledges, David and Jim. Of course I do not set my own compensation (and neither does Greg, in case anyone was really in doubt!), but I think you will find that a comparison of EC faculty and staff salaries with those in peer… institutions confirms what we all know and love about Erskine- while the pay is at or below the national averages, the results are much higher.

Thanks for trusting me with your alma mater. I know that none of you are not going to agree with every decision I make, and several of you won’t like me no mater what I do, but that won’t stop me from doing all I can to earn whatever compensation the board sees fit to put in my contract. For the record, however, some of Jay’s numbers (including his # for me) are either wrong or misleading.

Dr. Norman responded again on 12/7:

Eric, I have thought a lot about your post since I saw it Saturday night. In particular, I have been thinking about how frustrating it must be to be waiting for a cry to fly to the rigging and fight, just to have me continue NOT sounding the call. I think a lot of people are feeling that same frustration.

The truth is, the kind of leadership you are waiting for is not the kind of leadership I have to offer. I am not leading Erskine into battle. I am trying to lead her out of it. Now is not the time to fly to the rigging. It is time to mend the rigging, plot the course, and refuse to engage those who have become addicted to the sport of war.

The best thing you can do to ensure the restored greatness of Erskine is exactly what you are already doing– study hard, be involved on campus, take advantage of every opportunity to equip yourself and your fellow students to flourish as whole persons. I am being as clear and open as possible about my vision for Erskine. It may sound a bit academic or philosophical for some, but let’s face it, we are an academic institution, that is what we do. My vision has tons of practical implications, and I am working hard with the cabinet and with the faculty to implement a pretty significant amount of change as quickly as possible. I know you are not seeing a whole lot of results from that process yet, but it is very important that change is brought about through the proper channels. Academic institutions are not democracies, but they are not dictatorships either. There are some decisions that I am responsible for (mainly administrative personnel), some that the board is responsible for (mainly setting policy) and some that the faculty are responsible for (mainly curricular).

Since this discussion thread is about administrative pay, there are a few things I should say about that as well. First of all, Jay’s numbers are misleading. Greg worked on some special projects that he was paid for in addition to his salary the year of jay’s audit. That is why his number is so high. Just in case there is any doubt, Greg does not set his own salary. Also, it is important to remember that Woody only worked for Erskine for half of the year reported.

The number he has for me is also either wrong or misleading. I don’t know how he calculated the value of my health insurance and other benefits, so i cant say for sure where he made his miscalculation, but one thing that I can say very clearly is that my base salary is substantially lower than what he quoted. Please understand, however, that I do not feel under-paid. I made it clear that if Erskine needed me, I would come. I was asked to come, and i agreed without asking about the salary or any other benefits. I just now did the math, and I am now making 14.3% more than I did last year. Some, including jay, have argued that I have more responsibility than I had in the past. Is it 14.3% more? That is not a decision I want to be involved in.

There are many questions to be asked regarding Mr. West’s posts.

1. Why does Mr. West attack Mr. Haselden in the manner that he does?

The Editor was on the Erskine Board of Trustees when Mr. Haselden was hired. As a matter of fact, the Editor was also on the Finance Committee of the Board at the time. At that point, Erskine’s financial house was in disarray. Erskine had experienced 4 or 5 CFOs who could not do the job. At times, the members of the Finance Committee were not confident in the financial statement or the budget. It was not until Mr. Haselden was hired that financial matters were brought under control and confidence was restored.

If Mr. Haselden is doing the job today that he did in 2004, then he is well worth whatever he is paid at this time. We are all aware that competent CFOs are paid very well.

Mr. West is aware of these matters. He was an Erskine VP at the time Mr. Haselden was hired.

Does Mr. West have unresolved issues with Mr. Haselden?

2. Why is Mr. West obsessing with Mr. Haselden and Dr. Norman’s salaries?

In his last year as an Erskine VP, Mr. West has informed us, his salary was $84,000. He also had an expense account. That was in 2006. Mr. West was compensated generously. Dr. Bill Crenshaw, Erskine English professor, noted in a post that Mr. West’s salary level in 2006 was 20K more than what his salary is now after 34 years of teaching English.

One wonders what Mr. West’s concern is. When he was an Erskine VP, he did not seem overly concerned with the salary levels of Erskine staff and faculty members or the cost of tuition. The only person that the Editor remembers standing on the floor of General Synod and complaining about the low salary levels of Erskine faculty members is Chuck Wilson. On more than one occasion, Mr. Wilson has decried the low salary levels of the ETS faculty members.

Many have wondered as to what Mr. West did when he was a VP at Erskine. His major project was the Erskine Drummond Center. Below is a photograph of that center.

Has the reader noticed that the photograph box is empty? The box could be made larger; however, the box would still be empty. A salary of $84,000 a year and a generous expense account is a great deal to pay for an empty photograph.

It could be said that when Mr. West and the other former Erskine College administrators that he mentions went to Erskine, they found it a small and insignificant educational institution and, after years of employment, when they left Erskine College, they left it a small and insignificant educational institution. The Editor’s knowledge of Erskine goes back 40 years. Not much has changed in 40 years. Stagnation is not a sign of success! Mr. West and the administrators he mentioned so glowingly are experts in stagnation.

3. Why does Mr. West report Dr. Norman’s salary at $210,000?

It is not difficult to find out what Dr. Norman’s salary is. From three BOT members, Dr. Norman’s salary is $175,000. That is $5,000 more than former President’s Ruble’s salary.

Dr. Norman’s salary level is about the salary level of a congregation that has 1,000 or more members. Dr. Norman is not overpaid for what is expected of him. The Editor is shocked that his salary is so low.

It has always been the contention of the Editor that one gets what one is willing to pay for. We in the ARP Church have paid for mediocrity and insignificance and we have gotten mediocrity and insignificance in abundance. Excellence and significance are going to cost more than what we have been willing to pay.

By the way, how does Mr. West know that ETS Executive Vice President Neely Gaston tithes his salary to the seminary? Does that matter?

4. Is Mr. West simply mean and execrable?

Well, is he?

This article is NOT an endorsement of Mr. Haselden’s work as CFO. The Editor knows Mr. Haselden’s reputation to be a competent money manager. The Editor has seen this in Mr. Haselden. Mr. West’s comments are not fair to Mr. Haselden. At the end of the day, Mr. Haselden’s competency is judged by Dr. Norman.

This article is not an endorsement of Dr. Norman’s presidency. Dr. Norman has been on the job for six months. Six months is not long enough to make a judgment as to whether Dr. Norman is succeeding or not. Mr. West’s comments regarding Dr. Norman are misleading. Why is Mr. West being misleading?

Mr. West had 14 years at Erskine College. Once again, above, in the empty box, is a photograph of his legacy. Now, add this: according to the Erskine IRS tax statement for 2006, Mr. West’s total compensation was $97,000 (see http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments//2007/570/314/2007-570314390-046d4539-9.pdf, page 17). This was also the year that Mr. West spent a great deal of his time running for a South Carolina Senate seat. He lost the race badly. Good grief, was Mr. West’s 2006 salary level disproportionate, inequitable, and unfair to the hard working staff and faculty members of Erskine College and Seminary? Where was Mr. West’s concern in 2006?

Did Mr. West have to take a significant cut in pay between 2006 and 2008? Why was there a $13,000 cut in pay? That is a whopping cut in pay! Was that cut in pay a result of Mr. West’s altruism?

What is going on with Mr. West? Why has Mr. West brought up salary issues? Why is it that Mr. West is playing salary games? Is something wrong with his memory regarding his pay? Has his memory corroded with his advancing years? He has made his cause suspect! Is Mr. West speaking for himself or another or others? In the word of Fats Waller: “One never knows, do one?”

These are my thoughts,

Charles W. Wilson

Share This:
Facebook Twitter Email Plusone Linkedin Pintrest

Filed Under: Newsletter

RSSComments (1)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Anthony says:

    Well, that just reinforces the adage that there are lies, there are damn lies, and then there are statistics!