42 college chiefs top Bush's $400,000 pay

Average compensation to presidents up 11% during fiscal year 2000

November 04, 2001|By COX NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON - The pay and benefits of 42 presidents of private colleges and universities exceed the $400,000 annual salary of President Bush, according to an annual survey being released today by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

That was twice as many as had reached that level just two years previously, according to the biweekly publication's analysis of federal reports filed by 600 private institutions.

During the 2000 fiscal year, the average president's compensation rose more than 11 percent to $207,130. That was slightly higher than the $200,000 salary of President Clinton, who signed a law doubling his successor's salary.

Excluding cases in which routine pay and benefits were enriched by farewell payments to departing officials, the best-compensated college presidents were Judith Rudin, University of Pennsylvania, $698,325; L. Jay Oliva, New York University, $650,746; William R. Brody, the Johns Hopkins University, $623,240; George Rupp, Columbia University, $562,610; and Richard C. Levin, Yale University, $561,709.

At the other extreme, some presidents were paid nothing at all, including several members of the clergy and the University of Denver's wealthy chancellor, Daniel Ritchie.

While compensation for private-college presidents was soaring at more than 11 percent, average salary of professors at private and public colleges was rising by 3.7 percent to $58,372, according to the American Association of University Professors. Meanwhile, tuition and fees at private four-year colleges rose 5.5 percent to $15,518, according to the College Board.

On the other hand, the president's compensation of just more than $200,000 was far below the average of $568,000 plus stock options for the top officers of 10 large, for-profit educational firms such as DeVry Inc., the Education Management Corp. and the Apollo Group.

"A big part of the debate over pay for college presidents is whether you should compare their salaries to a person who teaches freshman English or to the head of a big company," said editor Scott Jaschik of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

David Ward, president of the 1,800-college American Council on Education, said pay is probably rising fast for private-college presidents because "the number of people able to do the job who are willing to do it hasn't grown fast enough to keep up with turnover in recent years."

"Most of the boards of private colleges who make these salary decisions are made up of business executives and loyal alumni who are willing to pay what it takes," Ward said. "But my experience has been that they're not patsies by any means; they're tough people who know the ways of the world."

Special circumstances accounted for three departing college presidents at the very top of this year's Chronicle survey:

George C. Roche III received $1.2 million in current and accumulated salary and benefits when he left Hillsdale College in Michigan amid rumors of an affair with his daughter-in-law, who had committed suicide.

The $832,492 collected by Richard L. Rubenstein as he left the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut included a paper gain in the value of the house he obtained with help from the university when he was hired in 1995.

Victor P. Meskill of Dowling College, who had been paid $452,000 the previous year, received nearly $800,000 the year he retired from the Long Island school after 22 years.

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