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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Quinnipiac’s 990 filing reveals drop in Olian’s salary, $50M in foreign investments

Quinnipiac University’s fiscal year 2021-22 tax documentation revealed the salaries of the institution’s top earners, a 10.5% drop in the university’s endowment and foreign investments totaling more than $50 million.

The Internal Revenue Service requires that all tax-exempt entities — including nonprofit universities like Quinnipiac — disclose their annual returns via form 990 tax filings.

The Chronicle obtained a copy of the university’s form 990 tax filing for the fiscal period beginning on July 1, 2021, and ending on June 30, 2022.

Here’s a breakdown of Quinnipiac’s 2021-22 fiscal year:


Infographic by Peyton McKenzie.

Quinnipiac’s 990 tax filing revealed the salaries of the university’s eight highest-compensated employees, each of whom made more than $270,000 in FY 2021-22.

President Judy Olian, Quinnipiac’s highest-paid employee, earned just under $984,000 in her fourth year as the university’s chief executive. Olian’s base pay — which accounted for approximately 70% of her total earnings — increased slightly between FY 2020-21 and FY 2021-22, though a reduction in her bonus and incentive compensation meant she earned about $40,000 less in 2021 than in 2020.

Five of the state’s 11 highest-paid private college presidents earned more money in FY 2021-22 than Olian. However, only the heads of Yale University and the University of New Haven earned higher base salaries, and the presidents of Sacred Heart University and Wesleyan University were the only two to receive higher bonuses.

After Olian, former men’s basketball head coach Baker Dunleavy was the university’s highest-salaried employee in FY 2021-22. Dunleavy, who resigned in April 2023 to accept a general manager position at Villanova University, earned a $770,000 paycheck in his fifth season at Quinnipiac.

Quinnipiac men’s hockey head coach Rand Pecknold, Provost Debra Liebowitz and Chief Financial Officer Mark Varholak each ranked among the university’s top five highest-paid employees. Elicia Spearman, general counsel and vice president of human resources, and Tricia Fabbri, head coach of the women’s basketball team, also appeared on Quinnipiac’s tax filing among the highest-paid employees.

And, despite stepping down from his presidential role in 2018, President Emeritus John Lahey rounded out the list of the university’s highest-salaried employees. Lahey, who served as Quinnipiac’s president for more than three decades and who still teaches a 100-level philosophy course online each fall, earned nearly $272,000 in FY 2021-22.

Over two decades of Quinnipiac’s 990 filings indicate that the university’s former president earned more than $20 million between FY 2001-02 and FY 2021-22, around $2.8 million of which he received after retiring. Olian, meanwhile, has earned approximately $3.5 million as Quinnipiac’s president since her 2018 appointment to the post.

However, the sum of Lahey’s university paychecks does not include the compensation he received from Quinnipiac University Online, Inc., a separately chartered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization the institution operated between 2001 and 2019.

Lahey served as the chairman of Quinnipiac University Online throughout his final 17 years as the university’s president — and earned nearly $3.9 million for doing so, according to the organization’s tax filings.


The university’s 990 tax filing also revealed that Quinnipiac provided certain benefits — first-class or charter travel and travel for companions — to at least one of the university’s executives.

In and of itself, this is not all that unusual. Each of the top 11 private universities in Connecticut provided at least one executive with housing, travel or personal benefits, according to their form 990s.

However, Quinnipiac notably did not “follow a written policy regarding payment or reimbursement or provision of all of the expenses,” per the university’s tax filing. University officials also did not explain the lack of a formal policy in the filing’s supplemental information section as required by the form.

Quinnipiac’s previous tax filings indicate that the university has provided these benefits and others to its employees in the past, though officials always reported following a formal policy.

Trinity College was the only other private Connecticut university that reported not using a written reimbursement policy — but the college’s tax filing included a supplemental explanation.

And unlike each of the 10 other private universities in the state, Quinnipiac did not “require substantiation prior to reimbursing or allowing expenses,” per the university’s tax filing. Put simply, it appears that Quinnipiac executives did not have to provide verification of their purchase to bill the university for reimbursement.

It is unknown which university employee or employees received these benefits. It is also unclear why Quinnipiac neither followed a written policy nor required employees to provide proof of purchase to qualify for reimbursement.

“The university does not comment on the 990,” wrote John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations, in an Oct. 3 statement to The Chronicle.


Quinnipiac’s most recent tax filing also indicated that the institution maintained relative fiscal stability in a year marked by intense inflation and financial turmoil, particularly in comparison to nearby colleges.

The university’s $674 million endowment, despite declining by more than 10.5% between FY 2020-21 and FY 2021-22, ranked fourth among the state’s top 11 private universities.

Quinnipiac University’s endowment has more than doubled since fiscal year 2012-13 (Infographic by Amanda Riha).

The university declared more than $1.2 billion in net assets at the end of the fiscal year — a figure topped only by Yale and Wesleyan.

Quinnipiac’s 990 filing also indicated that the university earned more than $41.6 million in net revenue. Although this figure represents an 8% decline from the previous fiscal period, the university earned more in FY 2021-22.


The university’s tax filing indicated that Quinnipiac invested more than $50 million in Central America and the Caribbean.

Although Quinnipiac officials did not disclose any foreign investments between 2009 and 2018, 2021 marked the third consecutive fiscal year in which university officials invested tens of millions of dollars in Central America and the Caribbean without explanation. And in those three years alone, the university’s foreign investments totaled more than $153 million.

Details on the specific country or countries in which the university invested were not available. The reason for the investments also remains unclear.

However, Quinnipiac is far from the only institution that invests overseas. Connecticut’s seven largest private colleges — excluding Yale University, which invested $8.75 billion overseas — declared more than $815 million in foreign investments in FY 2021-22.

Relative to the other institutions, though, Quinnipiac’s $50 million foreign investment did not appear remotely out of place. Aside from Yale, three institutions — Wesleyan University, Fairfield University and Trinity College — declared tens of millions of dollars more in foreign investments than Quinnipiac.

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Cat Murphy
Cat Murphy, News Editor
Peyton McKenzie
Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

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