Private College Presidents Who Earn Top Dollar

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The paycheck for the average private college president is on the rise. Find out how much the top earners make and which college employees earn even more than presidents at some institutions.

As the cost of college seems to spiral ever upward, so does the compensation paid to private college presidents.

Private college presidents earned an average of $436,429 in 2013 – a 5.6 percent increase from their 2012 pay – though 32 presidents had compensation packages of more than $1 million, according to a new report from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

On the top end of the pay scale is Columbia University’s Lee C. Bollinger, who earned more than $4.6 million in 2013. Bollinger’s base salary of $1.17 million was supplemented by a $943,000 bonus, use of a university residence and other deferred compensation, the Chronicle reported.

“It’s worth noting that even multimillion compensation packages can make up just a small portion of a school’s expenses,” CNN Money explained. “At Columbia, for example, Bollinger earned about $1,300 for every $1 million the college spends.”

Columbia is the second most expensive college to attend in the United States.

University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann is the second highest paid private college president. Gutmann took home just more than $3 million in 2013.

Rounding out a list of the top five highest paid college presidents are: High Point University’s Nido Qubein ($2.9 million), Yeshiva University’s Richard M. Joel ($2.5 million) and Vanderbilt University’s Nicholas S. Zeppos ($2.1 million).

The Chronicle found that private college boards often believe they have to be generous with their top executive’s pay packages in order to attract and hang on to the best talent.

“From talking to boards of trustees, often what we hear is that they’ll pay whatever they have to to retain the talent at their institutions,” Sandhya Kambhampati, a database reporter for The Chronicle, said in an interview with The New York Times. “There’s a finite number of people available for these positions.”

Although some of the presidents’ pay packages may seem exorbitant, it’s noteworthy that presidents aren’t always the top-paid private college employee. In fact, according to CNN Money, coaches are the highest paid employees at 7 percent of private universities.

Check out a list of the “10 Most Expensive Colleges in the U.S.”

What do you think of the pay packages earned by college presidents at the top in the United States? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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