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The highest paid US college and university presidents


Much like business-executive pay, university-president compensation has grown over the past decade.

Average compensation for private college presidents jumped 4% year over year in 2016 and 9% in 2015, according to data from The Chronicle of Higher Education. At the same time, more and more public university presidents earn over $1 million.

The Chronicle updated their executive compensation tracker in December 2018 to include additional data from private colleges. The most recent data documents total salaries in the year 2016.

Read more: The 25 highest-paying entry-level jobs for college grads

The highest-paid university president, as of 2016, was former Baylor University head Ken Starr. He made $4,946,996, about 41 times the average full-time professor salary.

Most of the highest-paid presidents reside over private colleges, but two public-university presidents made the top 15: former University of Louisville President James R. Ramsey and Auburn University President Jay Gogue.

A handful of the highest-paid college presidents resigned from their posts due to scandals. The heads of Baylor University and University of Rochester left due to mishandling of sexual misconduct reports on campus. The University of Louisville president left after accusation of taking excessive compensation from the school’s foundation.

The gap between what faculty members earn and what presidents earn has also risen. Tenure-track positions have shrunk as low-wage adjunct professors — who typically work without benefits— increase on campuses, according to the American Association of University Professors.

The same trend can be seen beyond education: the biggest US companies set CEO pay records in 2018 for the fourth straight year, according to a recent Wall Street Journal analysis. Real wages for workers, meanwhile, have stagnated for decades.

“There has never been as great a discrepancy in higher education between those who are the highest paid and those who are the lowest paid,” William Tierney, professor and co-director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California, told The Washington Post. “What higher education is doing is mirroring the behaviors of the corporate world.”

Here are the highest-paid university presidents from private and public colleges in the US as of 2016:



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