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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, November 24, 2006

College leaders' salaries soaring

By Charlotte Porter and James M. O'Neill
Bloomberg News Service

Presidents of 70 private colleges received more than $500,000 in salary and benefits last year; a decade ago, only one private college president earned that much.

The number of public college presidents cracking the half-million-dollar mark almost doubled last year to more than 40, according to an annual survey.

Cornell University President Jeffrey Lehman earned more than $1 million in his final year, the most in the Ivy League and almost twice as much as his Harvard counterpart, the survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education said. David Roselle of the University of Delaware, at just under $1 million per year, was the highest-paid chief of a public U.S. college.

Compensation for the presidents of U.S. institutions of higher learning will continue to rise because of competition for top candidates and the growing demands of the job, the Chronicle said. The number of presidents earning more than $500,000 increased by 53 percent since last year.

David McClain, president of the 10-campus University of Hawai'i system, has an annual salary of $360,000.

The modern college presidency is "an unbelievably demanding job at an extremely difficult time in higher education," said Jean Dowdall, a former president of Simmons College in Boston who now is a search consultant for Witt/Kieffer in Oak Brook, Ill. She said the demands include increasing scrutiny from the federal government, eroding state appropriations and huge fundraising responsibilities.

"We've entered the age of the $2 billion capital campaign," she said by phone. "That's a lot of knocking on doors and rubber chickens. Most academics didn't go into the field because they wanted to raise lots of money. And meanwhile the demand for presidents to have face time back on campus is also very high."


Lehman, who earned $675,027 in last year's survey, received $1.004 million in pay and benefits for 2004-05, the Chronicle said. The compensation was due to him contractually when he stepped down as president of Cornell in June 2005 after just two years, according to Simeon Moss, spokesman for the university, based in Ithaca, N.Y.

In the Ivy League, Lehman was followed by Richard Levin of Yale, $778,935; Amy Gutmann of the University of Pennsylvania, $767,030; Lee Bollinger of Columbia, $685,930; Ruth Simmons of Brown, $684,709; Shirley Tilghman of Princeton, $595,982; Lawrence Summers, who resigned this year from Harvard, which has the largest endowment, $595,871; and James Wright of Dartmouth College, $479,233.


Roselle's $979,571 in total compensation from Delaware outstripped the $880,950 earned by Martin Jischke of Purdue University in Indiana, which includes a $400,000 retention bonus yet to be paid, and the $752,700 taken home by Mark Emmert of the University of Washington.

Among private universities, the top pay package was the $1.2 million received by Gordon Gee of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

Two retiring presidents, Audrey Doberstein of Wilmington College in Delaware, and Donald Ross of Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., had higher packages because of deferred compensation, the Chronicle said. The only other president earning more than $1 million was Roger Hull of New York's Union College.

The survey was based on Internal Revenue Service Form 990s for the 2004-05 academic year, the most recent for which all colleges reported, the Chronicle said. It covered 853 four-year institutions and university systems, up from 728 last year, and for the first time included standard retirement contributions for the presidents of public schools.

In addition to pay, the survey looked at some nontraditional compensation, such as the housing and transportation provided to college presidents.


James Barker, head of Clemson University in South Carolina, drives a BMW sport utility vehicle, while the president of Colorado College in Colorado Springs drives a Ford hybrid and a Segway personal transporter. The home of Mark Hamilton, president of the University of Alaska system in Fairbanks, includes composting toilets, while Bernard Machen moved out of the president's home at the University of Florida in Gainesville, because of traffic noise, the Chronicle said.

In articles accompanying the survey, the Chronicle said college presidents' jobs and compensation are increasingly comparable to those of corporate chief executive officers. It's an approach that John Curtis, director of research and public policy at the American Association of University Professors, thought was unsuitable for academia.


"Our concern is that that's not appropriate, when virtually all of the colleges and universities we talk about are still not-for-profit organizations, and that they also supposedly operate for the benefit of society, for the common good," he said by phone.

Curtis said his organization, which represents about 45,000 faculty, librarians and academic professionals at U.S. colleges, says presidential pay "is rising at a rate that's completely out of line with the pay for faculty and for other employees at colleges and universities."

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