Alan Merten earned $1.87 million in last year of GMU presidency

Former GMU president Alan Merten. (Evan Cantwell)
May 13, 2013

As he left the presidency of George Mason University last year, Alan G. Merten earned nearly $1.2 million in retirement benefits, making him one of the nation’s top-paid public university leaders, according to a new survey.

Merten’s total 2012 compensation for his 16th and final year as GMU president was $1.87 million, the survey from the Chronicle of Higher Education found. That placed him fourth among 214 public college and university presidents.

Merten’s base annual salary was $427,369, which put him more in the middle of the pack on that measure. He also earned a $150,000 bonus and about $99,000 in deferred pay.

The survey data, published Sunday, showed that retirements — or abrupt departures -- are sometimes a lucrative transition point for university presidents.

Atop the Chronicle’s list was Graham B. Spanier, who was fired as president of Penn State University in November 2011 under the cloud of a child-sex-abuse scandal involving that school’s football program. Spanier’s total compensation for fiscal 2012 was $2.9 million, of which about $2.5 million was deferred and severance pay.

Here is compensation data for other public higher education leaders in Virginia and Maryland who were among the top 100 nationally:

**Charles W. Steger, Virginia Tech president since January 2000, received about $858,000, ranking 7th;

**Teresa A. Sullivan, University of Virginia president since August 2010, received about $732,000, ranking 15th;

**Michael Rao, Virginia Commonwealth University president since July 2009, received about $686,000, ranking 22nd;

**William E. “Brit” Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland since August 2002, received $490,000, ranking 80th;

**Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County since May 1992, received about $487,000, ranking 82nd;

**Wallace D. Loh, president of the University of Maryland at College Park since November 2010, received about $483,000, ranking 83rd; and

**John R. Broderick, president of Old Dominion University since June 2008, received about $473,000, ranking 87th.

Nick Anderson covers higher education for The Washington Post. He has been a writer and editor at The Post since 2005.
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