Critics blast college administrators for 'lavish' benefits

One presidents received a nearly $750,000 severance package

Some presidents and other school leaders draw perks that go well beyond their high salaries, argue Matt Krupnick and Jon Marcus of the Hechinger Report.

Krupnick and Marcus point to one high-profile example in particular: the College of DuPage, where an outgoing president allegedly made secret contracts and spent extravagantly on things like Champagne and vodka. He was eventually voted out—and given almost $750,000 in severance.

The ensuing scandal brought fresh public scrutiny to compensation of college leaders, in DuPage's home state of Illinois and nationwide, say Krupnick and Marcus. They point to data from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) showing that presidents at research universities earn $450,000 per year on average.

Read more: How much do college presidents earn?

But college leaders also get special "perks" in addition to their salaries, say Krupnick and Marcus. Citing more CUPA-HR data, they point out that most presidents get housing and a car. A few other senior leaders also get housing or car allowances.

Schools set administrator compensation in response to the marketplace, Raymond Cotton, partner at a law firm that often negotiates higher education contracts, told the Hechinger Report. If they want to recruit competitively, says Cotton, colleges do not have a lot of choice in the matter (Krupnick/Marcus, Hechinger Report, 8/5).

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