The country's highest-paid college president works for Johns Hopkins University, in the heart of cash-strapped Baltimore, according to a survey that will be released today.

President William R. Brody, who is paid $897,786, jumped from having the fifth-highest private school salary in 2002 to being 2003's top earner, according to the survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Coming in a close second was the University of Pennsylvania's Judith Rodin, who received $892,213 in 2003. She stepped down in June.

Brody declined through a spokesman to comment, but the chairman of Hopkins's Board of Trustees released a statement saying Brody, who has headed the university since 1996, does an "outstanding job."

"We are very pleased with Bill's performance, and he deserves his compensation," Raymond A. "Chip" Mason said in the statement.

Seven private college presidents received more than $800,000 during fiscal 2003, up from four the previous year.

The chronicle's survey consists of two reports: what presidents at private colleges received in 2003 and what those at public colleges will receive in 2004-05.

But the list included many asterisks -- representing bonuses, severance packages and other one-time payouts -- that muddled the line between big earners and really big earners.

Topping the list of public colleges was the University of Washington's Mark A. Emmert, who receives $762,000.

Washington area presidents who made that list were University of Virginia's John T. Casteen III, who ranked ninth among public college presidents, making $549,783, and the University System of Maryland's William E. Kirwan, who ranked 20th, receiving $477,650.

Those salaries are dwarfed by University of Maryland basketball Coach Gary Williams, who is guaranteed $1.3 million each year, and football Coach Ralph Friedgen, who is guaranteed $1.1 million.

The disparity between the salaries of college academic and athletic leaders has left some in the academic world fuming.

C. Peter Magrath, president of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, said the discrepancy has been ingrained in university culture for decades.

"It's not a nice message about our society's values, but that seems to be the reality," Magrath said. "Star coaches are paid a lot more than doctors and certainly more than schoolteachers and educators. It's a reality and not one I think will change soon."

Among area private college presidents on the list, Gallaudet University's I. King Jordan was No. 13, receiving $582,668.

Barry Toiv, a spokesman for the Association of American Universities, said colleges continue to bump up their presidents' salaries to stay competitive. "These men and women are CEOs in the sense that they have huge institutions for which they must carry out an enormous variety of difficult and complex tasks," he said. "And so they are not easy to find. There is competition for them, like any other field."