College Presidents’ Pay Climbs as State Funding Shrinks

Tim Goral's picture

State and local funding for public universities fell by seven percent last year, but that didn’t prevent some college presidents from getting raises. In 2011-12, the median total compensation for chief executives at public colleges was $441,392—a 4.7% increase from the 2010-11 school year, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s annual report on executive pay.

At the top of the list is Graham Spanier, the former president of Pennsylvania State University, who was forced to resign in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. In 2011-12, Spanier brought in a total of $2.9 million, which included $1.2 million in severance pay. He was followed by Jay Gogue of Auburn University, who received $2,542,865, and Gordon Gee, president of The Ohio State University, whose $1,899,420 compensation included a base salary of $830,439—the most of any president. In 2007-08, Gee famously became the first college president who earned more than $1 million per year. Nothing to scoff at, though many of the presidents on the list don’t make as much as the football and men’s basketball coaches at their schools.

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