What Public-College Presidents Make

May 17, 2012

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President Profiles

Highest-Paid Public-College Presidents, 2011 Fiscal Year

President Total compensation  
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Presidential Compensation Edges Upward

We surveyed presidential pay at 190 public research institutions.

Category 2010 FY Median 2011 FY Median 1-year change
Total compensation $409,483 $421,395 +2.9%
Base pay $379,000 $383,800 +1.3%
Professor compensation $136,500 $139,550 +2.2%
Compensation medians include only presidents serving full years. Medians reflect institutions in the data set in both 2010 and 2011.

Presidential Pay Is Still a Potent Political Target

Criticized for rising pay among its presidents, California State trustees struggle to appease critics without losing competitive edge in recruitment.

Compare Presidential and Professors’ Pay

Presidential and Professor Pay Scatterplot

See which presidents made many more times than their professors did, and how your president stacks up.

By Josh Keller and Andrea Fuller / Feedback

About these data

These data show the compensation received in the 2010-11 fiscal year by 199 chief executives at 190 public universities and systems in the United States. Fiscal years typically end June 30.

The Chronicle surveyed institutions to collect compensation data. Our analysis included public colleges and their affiliated systems that were classified as research universities by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2010. The four-year institutions included here comprise universities with total fall enrollments of at least 10,000 and universities with smaller enrollments that are state flagships. The cohort was set based on fall 2009 enrollments because more recent figures were not available at the time of the survey’s distribution.

+ More information about the data

These data are not directly comparable to those reported by The Chronicle for private nonprofit institutions. Those figures include many more categories, such as the value of various nontaxable benefits, are reported by calendar rather than fiscal year, and are taken from the IRS Form 990.


At some colleges, more than one president served during 2010-11. All people who served in the capacity of chief executive were used in the analysis, including interim leaders if they served for at least six months. Partial-year dollar amounts are reported for presidents who did not serve the entire year.

Partial-year presidents were excluded from analysis that compared presidential compensation with other variables, such as faculty salaries.

The Chronicle chose not to include year-over-year comparisons for individual presidents’ compensation packages because of slight changes to the questionnaire for 2010-11.

Data on endowments were obtained from the National Association of College and University Business Officers for the 2010-11 fiscal year. Data on fund raising were obtained from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education for the 2010-11 fiscal year. Data on enrollments (fall 2010) and graduation rates (six-year rate for the 2004 cohort) were obtained from the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Graduation rates were based on first-time, full-time students seeking a bachelor’s degree. Ipeds data were not available for all campuses and were omitted at systems that lack a clear main campus.

Data is for the main campus when the system and main campus share a president, although endowment data generally represents all branch campuses.

Revenues and expenditures are taken from Ipeds and are for 2009-10, the most recent year available. Revenues include all operating revenues, nonoperating revenues, and other additions such as capital appropriations. Expenditures reflect all operating and nonoperating expenses and deductions for the current fiscal year.

Faculty compensation for the 2010-11 fiscal year, which includes the average pay and benefits for full professors except medical-school faculty, was obtained from the American Association of University Professors. Not all colleges report the data to AAUP each year. These data are not perfectly comparable to the data The Chronicle collects on presidents’ pay, because the AAUP measures more components of total compensation, such as insurance premiums.

Robert Caldwell contributed research.

– Minimize data description