According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, a total of 39 leaders of private colleges earned more than $1 million during the 2014 calendar year—up from 32 the year before. And on the public side, five college presidents crossed the million dollar threshold during fiscal year 2015.
Despite whatever pressure may exist on campuses to keep costs down, compensation of college presidents continues to rise. For private college leaders who served full years in both 2013 and 2014, average pay increased 8.6 percent to $512,987. The most recent analysis of public college leaders who served the full year found average pay to be $467,533 in fiscal year 2015—6.1 percent higher than the year before.
Nice work if you can get it.
For the record, eight college presidents received more than $2 million in 2014. Jack P. Varsalona, of Wilmington University in Delaware, led the pack earning $5,449,405, of which $427,345 was base pay, $381,040 was bonus and $4,631,035 came from a “deferred-compensation plan.”
Deferred-compensation plans frequently explain the apparent “windfalls” received by top college administrators. They are now considered essential recruitment and retention tools. Under these plans, the university sets aside money, tax-free, each year in a designated fund for the college president, who may not touch the money until an agreed-upon date and must perform according to standards specified in their contract. Unless the president resigns or otherwise leaves early, he or she stands to make a considerable amount of money above base pay in the year the plan comes due.
Mr. Varsalona’s deferred-compensation ranked second-highest in the history of The Chronicle’s executive compensation reports, exceeded only by one paid to Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Renssselaer Polytechnic Institute, which totaled nearly $5.9 million, in 2012.
The Chronicle’s analysis of private college leaders is based on the latest available federal tax filings and includes compensation for 516 presidents serving 499 institutions for all or part of the 2014 calendar year. For public college leaders, The Chronicle conducts a separate survey and notes that the “figures for public colleges are not directly comparable to data reported for private colleges because they reflect slightly different categories of pay and different periods of time.”
Highest paid private college leaders in 2014:
Jack P. Varsalona, Wilmington University, $5,449,405
Mark S. Wrighton, Washington University, $4,185,866
Gerald Turner, SMU, $3,354,128
Amy Gutman, University of Pennsylvania, $2,962,708
Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia University, $2,447,032
Morton O. Schapiro, Northwestern University, $2,352.578
Robert Fisher, Belmont University, $2,120,091
Robert J. Zimmer, University of Chicago, $2,051,089
James F. Jones, Trinity College (CT), $1,661,794*
David J. Skorton, Cornell University, $1,618,328
Donna E. Shalala, University of Miami, $1,570,761
C.L. Max Nikias, University of Southern California, $1,525,297
Ronald R. Thomas, University of Puget Sound, $1,509,650
Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., Saint Leo University, $1,509,342
Lewis M. Duncan, Rollins College, $1,497,248*
Highest paid public college leaders in 2014-15:
Renu Khator, University of Houston, $1,300,000
Michael R. Gottfredson, University of Oregon, $1,215,142 *
Michael K. Young, Texas A&M University College Station, $1,133,333*
William H. McRaven, University of Texas system, $1,090,909*
Mark P. Becker, Georgia State University, $1,051,204
Lou Anna K. Simon, Michigan State University, $850,000
Patrick T. Harker, University of Delaware, $841,187
Steven Leath, Iowa State University, $820,461
Elson S. Floyd, Washington State University, $805,880*
David R. Hopkins, Wright State University, $803,320
Eric J. Barron, Pennsylvania State University, $800,000
Michael V. Drake, Ohio State University, $800,000
James P. Clements, Clemson University, $775,160
Mark S. Schlissel, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, $772,500
Robert E. Witt, University of Alabama system, $765,000