College presidents' salaries examined as income inequality gains more notice

By The Dartmouth Web Staff | 1/4/12 3:20pm

The Chronicle of Higher Education released an interactive table analyzing 2009 salaries of private college presidents. Then-retiring College President James Wright ranked in at #78 with a total yearly compensation of $721,385, while then-newcomer Jim Yong Kim ranked #110 at $612,718.

As inflation and professor pay decreased in 2009, the median salary for college presidents increased.

Meanwhile, as Occupy Wall Street demonstrations reach college campuses, million-dollar salaries are receiving greater scrutiny. Pay gaps have widened between presidents and professors at private higher education institutions as well as among college presidents themselves. The Chronicle's data also includes analysis of compensation compared with college budgets.

More than 36 presidents made over $1 million in 2009, a year marked by economic recession. Additionally, a "typical" president earned 3.7 times as much as the average professor on his own campus, though several outliers made more than 10 times as much.

Topping the list was Constantine Papadakis, president of Drexel University since 1995, who earned a total compensation of $4,912,127 in 2009. Yale ranked #9 with $1,627,649 for 18-year president Richard Levin and Columbia followed at #12 with $1,527,217 for 9-year president Lee Bollinger.

Dartmouth's 2009 presidential salaries ranked near the bottom when compared with the rest of the Ivy League, though Brown University claimed the #93 spot with $656,182 total compensation for 10-year president Ruth Simmons.

The Chronicle excluded Kim, Wright and other presidents — who served in only part of 2009 — from their nifty graphic comparing college presidents' pay with professors' salaries. President Wright retired in June 2009 and President Kim took over in July.

The Chronicle of Higher Education used compensation data from the Internal Revenue Service's Form 990, a form filed by many major nonprofit entities. The data shows compensation data received in 2009 by 519 chief executives at 482 private, nonprofit U.S. colleges with at least $50-million in expenditures in 2009-10. Colleges who claimed religious exemption from filing the Form 990 were excluded from the data.

The Dartmouth Web Staff