U-Va.'s John Casteen, Virginia Tech's Charles Steger in top pay tier

By Daniel DeVise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The presidents of the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech ranked among the 10 highest-paid chief executives in public higher education in 2008-09, according to an annual compensation report released Monday.

A survey of 185 public universities and community colleges by the Chronicle of Higher Education found that the recession has flattened executive pay nationwide. Base salaries stopped growing for more than a third of the executives surveyed, and 10 percent experienced a decline in total compensation.

Median compensation for chief executives totaled $436,111 in 2008-09, an increase of 2.3 percent over 2007-08, or 1.1 percent after adjusting for inflation. In the previous four years, compensation had risen 7.6 percent to 18.9 percent annually, according to the higher education journal.

"This year's survey results are a break from a five-year pattern: Steadily rising pay packages of public university chiefs riled parents, students and politicians, especially as tuition increases also had been hefty from year to year," said Jeffrey J. Selingo, editor of the Chronicle, which first surveyed public universities on executive pay in 2001.

A companion survey on private institutions was released in November.

Only one public education chief, E. Gordon Gee of Ohio State University, earned more than $1 million ($1.6 million) in pay and benefits in 2008-09. U-Va. President John T. Casteen III ranked fourth, at $797,048; Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger ranked eighth, at $732,064. Casteen's total includes $221,000 in deferred compensation, and Steger's includes $232,172 in deferred pay. Both have had lengthy tenures; Casteen retires this summer after 20 years on the job.

"Steger has been in his role for 10 years, and longevity has a tendency to increase salary on a comparative basis," said Lawrence G. Hincker, a Virginia Tech spokesman. Hincker said Steger's base salary did not increase this year.

By contrast, 23 private college presidents earned more than $1 million in 2007-08, according to the most recent data studied by the Chronicle.

Among other local leaders, University of Maryland President C. Dan Mote Jr. made $498,284 in 2008-09; UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski III was paid $467,900; George Mason University President Alan G. Merten made $534,000; and University of the District of Columbia President Allen L. Sessoms, $315,650.

William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, turned down $100,000 in deferred compensation last year, one of several higher education leaders to take pay cuts. His compensation for the year totaled $490,000.

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