Brookdale Community College bills itself as New Jersey’s “No. 1 associate degree college.” It also has some of the best-paid employees in the state.
Monmouth County’s two-year college has 43 employees on its payroll with salaries that top $100,000 — the second-most among the 19 community colleges, according to new statewide salary data. Brookdale charges the highest tuition at $110 per credit hour, plus fees.
Brookdale President Peter F. Burnham, 63, is one of the best-paid community college administrators in the state. Burnham’s salary is $202,000 a year under terms of a contract that took effect in July.
The highest paid among the community colleges in the state is A. Zachary Yamba, 69, Essex County College’s president. His salary is $271,000 a year — higher than the $175,000 allowed for New Jersey’s governor.
The median salary at Brookdale was $51,759 among the 435 professors and administrators enrolled in the state’s higher education retirement fund. The state median was $70,000.
Compensation for college presidents is a function of school enrollment, geographic region and an individual’s experience, said Norma Kent, spokeswoman for the American Association of Community Colleges. About 10 percent of community college presidents in the nation are paid more than $160,000 a year, Kent said a survey found five years ago.
Brookdale, which has its main campus in Middletown, has the second-highest student population among the state’s public community colleges, according to the New Jersey Council of County College. There currently are 12,570 Brookdale students enrolled, a figure split almost evenly between full-time and part-time students.
Under his contract, Brookdale provides Burnham with a vehicle, including fuel, insurance and maintainence, and he is eligible for a $10,000 annual bonus if approved by the school’s trustees.
Burnham said the salaries for the school’s top employees “are a reflection of many factors, including longevity, which is a major factor for both faculty and administrators at Brookdale.”
“I, for one, have been here 17 years and my salary reflects that,” Burnham said in an e-mailed statement. “In addition, the salaries are a reflection of the “marketplace’ in higher education especially for senior-level administrators where underpaying can yield some poor results.”
Monmouth County Freeholder John D’Amico Jr. said he lacked in-depth information on administrative salaries at Brookdale, but added: “I do know, however, that Dr. Burnham has been president of Brookdale for quite a while; therefore his salary might reflect in part his longevity. As a freeholder, I have heard nothing but praise for the quality of the education being provided by Brookdale. In that sense, it appears that we are getting our money’s worth.”
Burnham said several key administrators also serve in prominent roles in professional organizations and community volunteer associations.
“My point is that these executives carry the name of Brookdale to the community, and as part of their role in managing and directing the future of the most excellent community college in New Jersey, they are closely connected to the community they serve,” Burnham said.
According to Burnham and other school officials, Brookdale leads community colleges in New Jersey — and is ranked 53rd nationally out of 1,200 schools — in granting associate degrees. The school awards about 1,500 a year.
The school also scores high in rankings of faculty members with master’s degrees and percentages of students who remain enrolled in successive semesters and of those who don’t switch programs of study, officials said.
Burnham said the school is also a state community college leader in percentage of operating budget “devoted to education and student support services.”
“The administrative support for an $84 million dollar enterprise, with 1,000 full-time employees, is kept to a reasonable minimum but also to a level that best serves the interests of the students we serve and the taxpayer investment and tuition dollar support we receive,” he said.
The budget relies primarily on tuition income (more than $36 million), county funding ($28 million) and state funding ($12 million). The balance consists of miscellaneous sources.
Not all of those making in excess of $100,000 at Brookdale are administrators: Three of the 10 highest paid employees are faculty members with more than 30 years experience, officials said.