Chief Investment Officer Paula Volent earned a salary of $2,244,678 in the 2015 calendar year, an increase of $934,754 since 2014, when she made $1,309,924, according to Bowdoin’s Form 990, the public tax filing which reports compensation of the College’s highest paid employees.
Volent, who has held the distinction of being the highest paid NESCAC employee since at least 2012, is now highest by $1,156,505 next to Chief Investment Officer at Williams College Collette Chilton.
According to President Clayton Rose, Volent’s salary is a product of a formula that measures her performance.
“Her compensation is formula based,” said Rose. “If she performs well, she gets paid well. And she’s performed on a stellar basis.”
With a 14.4 percent return in 2015, the endowment had an outstanding year, significantly better than the 1.8 percent average return of all college endowments according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers. The significant increase in Volent’s salary in 2015 appears to track this endowment performance, but her salary does not track precisely the endowment performance over time, nor does it track precisely Bowdoin’s performance compared to the country-wide average.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have [Volent] as our chief investment officer. The performance that she and her team have generated for this College for many years is nothing short of stellar,” said Rose. “As a result of her performance, this college is able to do amazing things, in particular, need blind admission and a no-loan financial aid program that we have—and only a handful of schools have.”
Rose declined to comment on the structure of Volent’s employment and compensation agreement. It is unclear whether her compensation was renegotiated in 2015 or if her compensation increase is simply a result of endowment performance.
It is difficult to quantify the premium Volent’s management skills have on the endowment’s performance, which has increased from $637 million, when she became Senior Vice President for Investments to $1,339,981,000, as of October 2016.
“There are lots of other opportunities out there that Paula could have if she wanted to where she’d make significantly more money,” said Rose.
Volent, who has been an employee of the College for 17 years, and previously worked as a curatorial assistant at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, is a disciple of famed Yale endowment manager David Swensen, whose former employees oversee billions of dollars at universities across the country.