College chiefs do OK on pay

The Education Beat

Compensation: The number of university presidents earning more than $500,000 is on the rise. And most of them deserve the money.

November 12, 2003|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

THE CHRONICLE of Higher Education is out with its annual survey of college and university salaries. And the winners are:

Ophthalmologists, surgeons and gynecologists. Duke University's basketball coach. The three men who manage Harvard University's money.

Generally, of course, he or she running the store earns the most, but at several universities with hospitals and medical schools, eye doctors and surgeons regularly earn more money than the president. At the Johns Hopkins University, a neurosurgeon and a pair of ophthalmology professors make more than President William R. Brody -- or did so, at least, in 2001-2002, the last year for which private-college compensation figures are available.

Brody wasn't a pauper, however. His total compensation was $772,000, making him the nation's fifth-highest-paid private university president. At Duke, "Coach K," Mike Krzyzewski, at $808,000 earned $300,000 more than "President K," Nannerl O. Keohane. The three money managers at Harvard earned a combined $51 million.

The Chronicle relies on Internal Revenue Service forms for much of its information on private colleges, so those figures tend to be a bit dated. Not so with public university data, which are current. William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, earns $375,000; C.D. "Dan" Mote Jr., president of the flagship campus in College Park, takes home $358,000, while Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, earns $331,000. All three also get a house (or housing allowance), a car and club memberships.

So life appears to be good for the college president, and it looks particularly cushy given the hefty recent tuition increases in the public sector. The number of public university presidents who earn more than $500,000 has doubled this year. Several private university chiefs, led by Shirley Ann Jackson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ($891,000), are at the door of the million-dollar club (or may be inside). And the gap between public and private presidential compensation is closing.

Judging what a college president should earn is a subjective matter. Does Bill Brody deserve twice as much as Dan Mote? If you go by the size of the institutions they lead, yes.

College Park is about a $1.1 billion operation. Hopkins spends about twice as much each year. If you go by tuition alone, Brody should earn about three times Mote's salary. If you go by tuition increases, Mote, Hrabowski, Kirwan et al. deserve what they're getting plus huge bonuses.

But it's not at all about size and tuition. Running a billion-dollar university is hugely difficult, and those who do it well deserve to be well-compensated. As I read the Chronicle's salary report every year, I wonder athow reasonable salaries are at the highest levels of academia, particularly when considered beside those paid the top executives of America's corporations.

You can spot some accounting tricks and deferred income, and a couple of presidents have their kids' tuition paid. But with the exception of the outrageous money paid Harvard's three endowment managers, few of these salaries seem out of line.

Indeed, Mary Pat Seurkamp, at just under $200,000, is probably underpaid as president of the College of Notre Dame. And Hood College President Ronald J. Volpe isn't overpaid at about $245,000 as he tries to keep his school afloat. After all, Hood and Notre Dame are both $30 million-plus enterprises.

And then there are the men and women of religious orders who head Catholic colleges and take no pay or donate their salaries. Their total compensation can't be estimated.

Bookstore auction to raise money for schoolbooks

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Children's Bookstore in Roland Park is holding a three-part silent auction, all proceeds from which will be used to purchase books for city schoolchildren. Here's how it works:

Three groups of unusual items -- art by children's book illustrators, first-edition signed books, signed posters and the like -- will be on display for two-week periods through Dec. 14 at the store on Deepdene Road and on the store's Web site (

The first group will be available through Sunday, the second Sunday until Nov. 30 and the third Nov. 30 through Dec. 14. People can bid on the items in person or by telephone.

"Each lot has a personality just its own," said JoAnn Fruchtman, store founder and owner.

Money raised goes to the Children's Bookstore Educational Foundation, which buys books for city teachers to use in their classrooms and then give to children to take home. The bookstore makes no profit from foundation activities.

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