How much do presidents of public colleges earn?

Two made more than $1 million

The typical public college president earned nearly 7% more in 2014 than the corresponding 2013 median salary, according to an analysis by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Chronicle staff examined data from institution surveys regarding Fiscal Year 2014 compensations. They looked at data on 238 CEOs from 220 public colleges—all U.S. doctoral schools as well as all state universities with at least three campuses and 50,000 students. The Chronicle also changed its methodology this year: it no longer counted deferred compensation unless it was actually paid out.

They found that two public-college leaders earned more than $1 million, down from three leaders the year before.

The highest-paid leaders were:

1. Rodney Erickson, Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) at University Park, $1,494,603
2. R. Bowen Loftin, Texas A&M University at College Station, $1,128,957
3. Joseph Alutto, Ohio State University, $996,169
4. Elson Floyd, Washington State University, $877,250
5. Paula Allen-Meares, University of Illinois at Chicago, $872,458

The lowest-paid leaders were:

1. Jane Conoley, University of California at Riverside, $31, 629
2. M. David Rudd, University of Memphis, $46,194
3. Frank Brogan, State University System of Florida, Board of Governors, $50,000
4. James Miliken, City University of New York (CUNY), $54,468
5. James Linder, University of Nebraska system office, $58,333

How much do college presidents earn?

The survey also asked schools about former leaders who remain on the payroll. Among those 42 people, the highest-paid were:

1. Graham Spainer, Penn State, $2,294,238

2. Kent Hance, Texas Tech University, $665,178
3. Modesto Maidique, Florida International University, $514,211
4. Matthew Goldstein, CUNY, $490,000
5. Michael Adams, University of Georgia, $462,118

Presidential compensation and benefits remain a sensitive political issue as schools continue to face tuition and budget problems.

The issue recently came to a head in Illinois. The state's Senate Democratic Caucus published a report in May that accuses presidents of both two- and four-year institutions of living in a "fantasy world of lavish

perks" such as country club memberships, retention bonuses, and retirement plans.

Universities also draw criticism for large gaps between faculty and presidential salaries—in FY 2014, the average president earned 3.8 times the average full-time professor.

But institution leaders say they need to offer more pay and benefits to remain competitive.

And at more than 50% of the institutions surveyed, presidents were not the highest-paid employee. At those schools, that distinction went to medical faculty and athletic coaches—62 of whom earned more than $1 million (Kambhampati, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 6/7; Kambhampati /O'Leary, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 6/8).

Thoughts on the story? Tweet us at @eab_daily and let us know.


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