Does Shirley Jackson have too many jobs?

Thumbnail image for Shirley Jackson at EMPAC openingRPI president Shirley Ann Jackson is mentioned prominently in a Bloomberg piece today about college presidents "struggling to reconcile the demands and values of academia with shareholder skepticism about their boardroom commitments."

From the article by Janet Lorin:

Jackson of RPI, in Troy, New York, sits on five corporate boards, more than most college presidents, after stepping down from a sixth in April. She traveled to Milwaukee and Houston to attend shareholder meetings for International Business Machines Corp. and Marathon Oil on two successive April days.
Shareholders at IBM, Marathon Oil, FedEx Corp. and NYSE Euronext filed proxy statements this year or in 2009 questioning Jackson's ability to juggle jobs.
"Nobody should be sitting on that many boards," said Emil Rossi, the trustee for shares who filed a proxy statement with his son to protest Jackson's board nomination at Armonk, New York-based IBM, the world's largest computer-services provider. Of 14 candidates, Jackson placed 11th in the voting and retained her seat. While getting the fewest votes for election at Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., a Newark, New Jersey-based utility, she also held her board post there.

There's more in the article, including comments from an RPI spokesman, a faculty member and reps from a few of the corporations.

Based on proxy statement data, Lorin figures Dr. Jackson earned almost $1.4 million in compensation from her work on corporate boards last year. The Chronicle of Higher Ed reported that Dr. Jackson topped the pay chart for private college presidents in the 2007-2008 school year, at almost $1.6 million.

Serving on all those boards and leading RPI does seem like it would be a lot for most people. But it's probably fair to say that Dr. Jackson is not "most people" -- she's a particle physicist, headed up a regulatory agency, heads up a major research university, is a member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (that would appear to be her sitting next to Barack Obama) and, among many accolades, has been called a "national treasure." That said, everyone has their limits.

Earlier this month, RPI's board of trustees "invited" Dr. Jackson to serve as president for another 10 years -- and she accepted.

[via RPInsider and Jeff S]

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