College president salaries on the rise again

  • Updated: November 12, 2007 - 11:09 AM

A national survey out today breaks down the earnings of college presidents, and those in Minnesota were compensated modestly by comparison to some of their colleagues.

A national survey out today breaks down the earnings of college presidents, and those in Minnesota were compensated modestly by comparison to some of their colleagues.

Presidents are getting healthy raises, and a dozen at private universities earn $1 million or more including benefits, according to the annual survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Salaries at public universities remain a tier lower but also are on the rise, with eight presidents earning $700,000 or more, six more than the year before,

The survey reports salaries from private colleges for 2005-2006, the latest year for which they are available. Figures for public colleges are for 2006-2007.

At public schools in Minnesota, the University of Minnesota's Robert Bruininks drew $544,490 in total compensation, according to the Chronicle. James McCormick of the Minnesota State Colleges and University system (MnSCU) earned $387,658.

Among private institutions, the Chronicle reported, Carleton College's Robert Oden Jr. led with $533,855. Next was Brian Rosenberg at Macalester College ($410,629) and Christopher Thomforde at St. Olaf College ($362,858). Thomforde is no longer at St. Olaf. The only other president to crack $300,000 is James Peterson at Gustavus Adolphus College.

Among the more popular Catholic schools, the Rev. Dennis Dease drew $248,919 in compensation at the University of St. Thomas, while sister Andrea Lee at the College of St. Catherine made about one-tenth of that amount ($23,914).

Nationally, presidential salaries are facing closer scrutiny at a time when college prices continue to rise well above the rate of inflation.

Of the 12 presidents earning $1 million or more, only three remain at their current institutions.

Richard Freeland, who stepped down in August 2006 at Northeastern University, was identified as the highest-paid president, with $2,887,775 in total compensation, including $2,373,285 in benefits. James P. Gallagher, who stepped down at Philadelphia University, had $2,557,219 in total compensation.

Several presidents earned substantially more because of retirement bonuses or deferred compensation, including Benjamin Ladner, who received $4.3 million in pay and benefits in fiscal 2006 from American University. Ladner stepped down following revelations of excessive personal spending of university money, and most of his compensation came from severance and deferred payouts.

The highest-paid, still-sitting president was William Brody at Johns Hopkins University, who received $1,938,024 in total compensation. Just under $1.5 million came in the form of salary from the university, including about $920,000 in deferred compensation.

The highest-paid public university president listed in the survey was David P. Roselle of the University of Delaware, who received $874,687 in 2005-2006. Delaware considers itself a quasi-private institution so those figures were the most recent. Roselle retired earlier this year.

He was followed by John T. Casteen III of the University of Virginia, with $753,672, and Mark Emmert of the University of Washington at $752,700.

Most college presidents don't earn nearly that much, but salaries at the most prestigious institutions are rising rapidly. At private research institutions, median pay is up 37 percent over the last five years to $528,105.

Still, not one of the top 10 highest-pay presidents at public universities with Division 1 athletics programs earned as much as their school's football coach. For example, Emmert's compensation was about half that of Washington football coach Tyrone Willingham, and Virginia coach Al Groh's earned more than $1 million more than Casteen.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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