The College President That Earned Over $7 Million

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According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, one private college president earned over $7 million in 2012. And 36 earned more than $1 million in the same year.

The Chronicle’s editors reported:

Three dozen private-college presidents earned more than $1-million in 2012, with the typical leader making close to $400,000, a Chronicle analysis has found.

The millionaire club increased by one from the year before, and the median pay rose by 2.5 percent.

The highest-paid leader was Shirley Ann Jackson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Ms. Jackson, who has regularly ranked in the top 25, earned just over $7.1-million, up from nearly $1.1-million in 2011. A large portion of her 2012 earnings came from a payout of almost $5.9-million that had been set aside over 10 years as a retention incentive.

No. 2 on the list, John L. Lahey of Quinnipiac University, made close to $3.8-million in 2012. That included about $2.8-million in compensation that had been set aside in previous years.

Rensselaer is a very small operation, as is Quinnipiac, which makes the pay levels hard to understand. The need for a retention incentive seems unnecessary. Where would Jackson go?

The Chronicle’s editors do not speak well of Jackson:

But Ms. Jackson has been a polarizing figure, clashing publicly with professors and battling behind the scenes with her cabinet members. To many people who have worked closely with her, Ms. Jackson’s well-compensated 15-year run as president is a striking example of the tremendous accommodations that some college boards are willing to make for leaders who present themselves as change agents.

The changes by Jackson are by definition very modest, given Rensselaer’s low position among colleges both academically and in size of student body and endowment.

The list of private college presidents includes some leaders of major institutions, but some are missing. For example, Harvard’s president, Drew Gilpin Faust, does not make the millionaire list. Lee C. Bollinger of Columbia made $3,389,917. Susan Hockfield of MIT made $1,679,097. Richard C. Levin, the president of Yale, made $1,375,365. At least Yale has the nation’s second largest university endowment.

On the other hand, how did Nido Qubein, president of High Point University, make $1,355,777? Maybe he did a better job than the president of Harvard?

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