A ranking has again raised the question: Is the University of Minnesota’s president paid properly?

Eric Kaler’s compensation of $653,235 in 2011-12 ranks 32nd among public research university presidents, a new survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education shows.

His base salary of $588,885 is 10th-highest among public research university presidents.

University presidents’ pay has exasperated a public weary of steady tuition increases. But the U points out that Kaler runs a university with a $3.5 billion budget and the fourth-largest enrollment in the country.

“President Kaler’s dedication to the institution and early track record of success are transforming the university in meaningful ways, and his compensation reflects that,” said Linda Cohen, chair of the Board of Regents, in a statement.

His compensation, she continued, is “on par” with amounts earned by other presidents in the Big Ten. He’s sixth among those 13 institutions, the Chronicle’s numbers show.

Nine-tenths of Kaler’s compensation comes from salary, and the rest is retirement. His contract is “pretty straightforward,” said U spokesman Chuck Tombarge, favoring simplicity over bonuses and other extras. The Chronicle notes that Kaler lives in the university’s official residence, Eastcliff, but does not attach a value to that benefit.

One note: Kaler’s annual salary is actually $610,000, not $588,885. But because he started after the 2012 fiscal year began, the number was prorated. His total compensation for a full year would have been $674,350 — just more than the Arizona State University president, who ranked 24th.

A committee of the Board of Regents is holding closed-door meetings this month and next to review Kaler’s performance. During a public meeting in June, that group could recommend changes to his pay.

Last year, after a glowing review, the regents offered Kaler a 3 percent raise. He asked that the $18,300 be put toward student scholarships, instead.


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