On Campus

Sluggish pay for American uni presidents

Marked differences in executive pay between public and private universities

Presidents at American public universities saw their salaries increase at a much slower rate last year than in previous years, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual survey of presidential earnings. While only 10 per cent of presidents saw their compensation reduced, many others voluntarily took a pay cut in acknowledgment of the economic climate. In total, about a third of the 185 public institutions surveyed by the Chronicle saw their wages stagnate. While presidential pay increased 2.3 per cent in 2008-09, that was down from a 7.6 per cent increase in 2007-08.

There were also marked differences in pay between public and private institutions, with more millionaire presidents in the private group, but a higher median wage among  public institutions. Among presidents at public schools, only the president of Ohio State University, E. Gordon Gee, topped a million. However, Gee donated more than $300,000 of his own earnings towards a scholarship endowment fund. Average pay was $436, 111 in the public sector. By contrast, 23 presidents at private institutions topped out past the $1 million mark, with Shirley Ann Jackson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute leading the ranks in private colleges with a salary of more than $1.5 million. Among 419 private colleges, a total of 110 presidents took home more than half-a-million with an average pay of $358,746, an increase of 6.7 per cent.

Related: University and college compensation, coast to coast

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