- Associated Press - Thursday, December 17, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The University of Mississippi’s new chancellor will make $600,000 a year, and Mississippi State University’s president is getting a pay raise to match.

The College Board announced the new salaries Thursday after approving them in a closed session, representing a big boost in the pay scales for the leaders of Mississippi’s two largest universities.

Both new Ole Miss Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and current MSU President Mark Keenum will be paid with $300,000 from state funds and $300,000 from private donations raised by the respective universities’ foundations.

Higher Education Commissioner Glenn Boyce said Vitter agreed to a four-year contract - typical for presidents of Mississippi universities - starting Jan. 1. Keenum’s contract had been extended until June 2019, but Boyce said it was not extended again. Keenum became president of MSU in 2009.

A computer scientist who currently serves as provost at the University of Kansas, Vitter was hired in October. Vitter will also be named to a tenured faculty position in the Department of Computer and Information Science, part of the Ole Miss engineering school.

Former Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones made $429,000, including $220,500 in state money and $208,500 from the foundation. Keenum previously made $455,000, with half from state funds.

“It is critical to provide appropriate and competitive compensation to attract and retain leaders of this caliber,” Alan Perry, president of the College Board, said in a statement. “We will continue to evaluate the salaries of all presidents in the system with the goal of providing competitive and appropriate compensation.”

Both leaders are required to live in university-provided houses and typically receive use of a vehicle.

Perry said surveys show Southeastern Conference universities pay their leaders $730,865, and noted the University of Arkansas had just agreed to pay $700,000 for a chancellor for its Fayetteville campus. Ole Miss and MSU are the smallest SEC schools besides Vanderbilt.

The boost means Higher Education Commissioner Glenn Boyce, who makes $385,000, will make significantly less than Vitter and Keenum, even though he oversees them. Perry wrote in an email that because the system office doesn’t have a private foundation, it’s harder to increase Boyce’s salary.

“It would be good to give raises to many people, but there is a limit to the money available at the universities and in the system,” Perry wrote. “The relationship of one person’s salary to another, while not completely irrelevant, is not the controlling issue.”

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Follow Jeff Amy at: http://twitter.com/jeffamy. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/author/jeff-amy

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