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36 private-college presidents earned over $1 million in 2010, study finds

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From page A4 | December 13, 2012 |

By Tamar Lewin

WASHINGTON — Three dozen private-college presidents earned more than $1 million in total compensation in 2010, the same number as in the previous year, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s analysis of federal tax documents.

“There’s no indication in these data that boards are retracting in term of presidential pay,” said Jack Stripling, a senior reporter at The Chronicle. “Over the long run, we’re still seeing more presidents who are paid at an elite level.”

In 2010, the latest year for which data is available, the highest paid president, with $3.05 million in total compensation, was Bob Kerrey of the New School in New York City. Kerrey, who left the job in December 2010, received a $1.2 million “retention bonus” and a payout of more than $620,000 in deferred compensation on top of his base salary of $602,593.

Among the 493 colleges with budgets greater than $50 million, the highest paid sitting president was Shirley Ann Jackson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, at $2.34 million.

The median total compensation among the presidents was $396,588, up 2.8 percent from the previous year. The median base salary, however, declined slightly, to $292,223.

John Sexton, the president of New York University, had the highest base salary, $1.24 million. With $1.48 million in total compensation, he was the 11th highest paid president.

From 2004, when five presidents surpassed the million-dollar mark, until 2010, the group earning more than $1 million grew every year — and the number earning more than $500,000 more than tripled, to 157 from 50.

The top 10 earners, in terms of total compensation, among chief executives at private colleges in 2010 were:

* Bob Kerry, The New School, $3.05 million;

* Shirley Ann Jackson, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, $2.34 million;

* David Pollick, Birmingham-Southern College, $2.31 million;

* Mark S. Wrighton, Washington University in St. Louis, $2.27 million;

* Nicholas S. Zeppos, Vanderbilt University, $2.23 million;

* Steven B. Sample, University of Southern California, $1.97 million;

* Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia University, $1.93 million;

* Richard C. Levin, Yale University, $1.62 million;

* Robert J. Zimmer, University of Chicago, $1.6 million; and

* Jack P. Varsalona, Wilmington University, $1.55 million.

Kerry, Pollick and Sample no longer hold those jobs.

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