Survey: What presidents at private colleges earn

Three private college presidents in the Washington region earned more than $1 million in 2009, and three more passed the $750,000 mark in total compensation, according to an annual survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The two largest sums among area presidents were exit packages to departing leaders: $3.8 million to William Brody at Johns Hopkins University and $1.5 million to Kevin Manning at Stevenson University, both in Baltimore. Their pay reflects not just salary and benefits but also multiple years of deferred compensation, much of it retirement pay.

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Manning earned 16 times the pay and benefits of the average full professor at Stevenson, a private liberal arts school with a career-preparatory focus.

Kevin Byrnes, chairman of the board of trustees at Stevenson, wrote a note to fellow board members preparing them for the survey and publicity.

“I am confident that President Manning’s compensation is fair, warranted and reflects his exemplary record of accomplishment and service to the University,” he wrote in the Nov. 21 memo.

Thirty-six presidents nationwide earned $1 million or more in 2009, according to the survey, which measures total pay and benefits for presidents at 482 private colleges with budgets exceeding $50 million. Private college presidents generally earn more than their counterparts in the public sector; only one public president, Gordon Gee at Ohio State, earned more than $1 million in fiscal 2009-10, said the corresponding Chronicle survey.

Brody, who left Hopkins at the start of 2009, ranked second among private college presidents in compensation, after Constantine Papadakis, the late president of Drexel University. Papadakis died in April 2009, and most of his $4.9 million in compensation went to his widow.

Locally, George Washington University President Steven Knapp earned $1.05 million in 2009. Ronald Daniels, who replaced Brody as president of Hopkins, earned $917,000. John DeGioia, president of Georgetown, earned $912,000. Neil Kerwin, president of American University, earned $797,000.

Million-dollar pay is now the norm at many of the nation’s largest and most selective private universities. Sitting presidents reaping seven-figure compensation include Nicholas Zeppos at Vanderbilt, Shirley Ann Jackson at Rensselaer, Richard Levin at Yale, Lee Bollinger at Columbia, David Leebron at Rice, John Sexton at New York University, Amy Gutmann at Penn, Robert Zimmer at the University of Chicago, James Wagner at Emory and Joseph Aoun at Northeastern.

Their salaries and perks “reflect supply and demand,” said David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, in a statement. Presidential searches are highly competitive and quality applicants scarce, he said, and colleges “must offer compensation packages that attract qualified leaders.”

Presidential salaries are rising only modestly. The Chronicle found that compensation rose an average 2.2 percent in 2009 to a median level of $385,909 at the schools surveyed.

Among other Washington region presidents, Howard President Sidney Ribeau earned $731,000, University of Richmond President Edward Ayers earned $719,000, Goucher College President Sanford Ungar earned $600,000, Washington and Lee President Kenneth Ruscio earned $570,000 and St. John’s President Christopher Nelson earned $523,000.

 
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