Guess which public university president made the most money last year

Every year the Chronicle of Higher Education publishes the compensation of university presidents, and it just put out the list for four-year public colleges for the year. No. 1 on the list may surprise you.

The president who earned the most was Graham Spanier, the former president of Penn State University at University Park, who was forced out of his job in November 2011 in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. He now faces criminal charges for trying to obstruct the investigation into the scandal.

Even though he didn’t finish out the school year, Spanier’s total compensation for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, was $2.9 million, with most of that amount coming from deferred compensation and a severance package.

The other nine highest-paid public university presidents in 2011-12, according to the Chronicle:

2. Jay Gogue, Auburn University, $2,542,865

3. E. Gordon Gee, Ohio State University, $1,899,420

4. Alan Merten, George Mason University, $1,869,369 (he left the presidency last year after 16 years in the job)

5. Jo Ann Gora, Ball State University, $984,647

6. Mary Sue Coleman, University of Michigan, $918,783

7. Charles Steger, Virginia Tech, $857,749

8. Mark Yudof, University of California, $847,149

9. Bernard Machen, University of Florida, $834,562

10. Francisco Cigarroa, University of Texas, $815,833

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · May 14, 2013