- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - Washington State University President Elson Floyd is one of the highest-paid public-college presidents in the country.

Mike Worthy, former chair and member of WSU’s Board of Regents, says he’s worth every penny.

The Seattle Times reports (http://is.gd/nLOYXN ) new data released Sunday by The Chronicle of Higher Education shows Floyd is the fourth-highest-paid public college president in the nation.

The 59-year-old has served as president of WSU for eight years. The university announced Friday he is now on medical leave for cancer treatment. He has colon cancer.

Floyd made $877,250 in 2014, including deferred compensation of $152,250, which he received in 2014. When only base salary is taken into account, The Chronicle reports Floyd’s base of $725,000 was the second-highest among presidents of the nation’s public colleges in 2014.

“We absolutely think his salary is appropriate,” Worthy said. “For the record, today or any other day, there has never been a more impactful president at WSU than Elson Floyd.”

He is the highest-paid university president in Washington state, as well, making more in 2014 than the UW’s former president, Michael Young, or the UW’s current interim president, Ana Mari Cauce.

Worthy said Floyd has racked up an impressive list of achievements since he started the job in 2007. For example, WSU enrollment has grown by 17 percent under Floyd’s tenure, and the percentage of students of color has grown from 14 percent in 2007 to 26.5 percent in 2014.

“We’re starting to look much more like the population of our state, which, in our view, has consistently been the objective,” Worthy said.

Among Floyd’s other achievements: Tripling the amount of money WSU receives in research grants, to $600 million a year, and completing 30 construction projects across WSU’s four campuses (Pullman, Spokane, Vancouver and the Tri-Cities).

This year, he worked to create bipartisan support for a bill that allows WSU to start a new medical school at WSU’s branch campus in Spokane.

Floyd makes significantly more than the typical public-college president, who earned just over $428,250 in the 2014 fiscal year, said Chronicle database reporter Sandhya Kambhampati.

“When we’ve spoken to boards of trustees, they tell us there’s a finite number of people for these positions, and in order to retain these presidents they will pay what it takes,” she said.

During the recession and its aftermath - between January 2009 and December 2012 - Floyd voluntarily reduced his own salary by $100,000 a year. He described it as a case of leading by example, at a time when faculty salaries were frozen, programs were being cut and tuition was growing by double-digit percentages.

More recently, in 2014, Floyd’s contract was extended by seven years - an idea that he himself suggested, after he told the board he had a lot of work he wanted to accomplish at WSU and intended to stay until he retired.

Last month, WSU regents voted to increase Floyd’s base salary by 6.9 percent, bringing it to $775,025. It was the first increase to his base pay that Floyd had received since 2008.

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Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com

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