- The Washington Times - Monday, November 15, 2004


Tuition is rising sharply, and many schools are still fighting through budget cuts. But the salaries of the highest-paid college presidents also are increasing, according to a survey released today.

The number of university presidents earning more than a half-million dollars jumped again this year — although they remain a minority.

Seventeen presidents of public universities and systems will earn more than $500,000 this year, up from 12 last year and six the previous year, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s compensation survey. Tuition at four-year public colleges rose 10.5 percent this year.

At private colleges and universities, the number of presidents earning more than $500,000 rose from 27 to 42 in fiscal 2003, the last year for which data were available from the private institutions.

Johns Hopkins University President William Brody’s total compensation of $897,786 topped all other college presidents.

The University of Washington’s Mark Emmert is the top earner among public presidents, with a package that will total $762,000 in pay and benefits.

Several education analysts said the figures aren’t necessarily a sign of excess, given the competition for strong leaders, who are at least as valuable in tough times as in flush ones.

Many of the top earners preside over complex institutions and manage thousands of employees. At schools such as Johns Hopkins, they also oversee teaching hospitals.

“Certainly in the private sector, you’d be paying four, five, six times more for the same function,” said David Ward, president of the American Council on Education, which represents universities.

Still, the figures concern some observers.

“I don’t underestimate the important work they do,” said Roger Bowen, general secretary of the American Association of University Professors and a former president in New York’s state university system. “But I think they’re starting to look more like CEOs than college presidents, and I think public trust is a real issue.”

For instance, at Washington, where Mr. Emmert earned $762,000, including a one-time relocation incentive, his predecessor earned $296,400 and the interim president made $405,000.

Taxpayers don’t foot the whole bill to pay presidents at many public universities. Private foundations contribute at least part of the president’s salary at nearly half the public institutions the Chronicle surveyed, up from one-third last year, with a median amount of support of $100,000.

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