As concerns over the cost of college continue to grow, so has interest in how the schools spend their money—including the often generous salaries of campus administrators.
For the 2013-2014 year, the median salary for public college presidents who served a full year was $428,250, up from $375,000 five years previously, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
But those base salaries are often just a portion of their total compensation, thanks to bonuses, deferred pay, and perks such as homes and cars. Last year, half of university presidents enjoyed free housing and more than 70% received some type of car allowance, according to the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.
The highest paid administrators don't always work at the biggest, or even the wealthiest, universities. There also appears to be little relationship between the value a college provides to its students and the largesse it provides to its leaders. For example, of the 10 public colleges Money ranks best for value, only one (Texas A&M) is represented on the list of the 10 highest paid college presidents. The rest were further down in our rankings, in some cases much further.
Here’s a peek inside the pay envelopes of the best-paid public college presidents, from the Chronicle of Higher Education data, along with how their schools stacked up in Money’s latest Best Colleges rankings. The most recent salary figures are from 2013-14, so some of these individuals are no longer in the same role.
10. University of South Florida
Judy L. Genshaft, president of University of South Florida
Total compensation: $719,675
Base salary: $719,675
Money Best Colleges rank: 566
Note: Genshaft is also president of the University of South Florida system, which includes two regional campuses.
9. Rutgers University at New Brunswick
Robert L. Barchi, president of Rutgers University
Total compensation: $739,624
Base salary: $649,624
Money Best Colleges rank: 119
Note: In addition to the main campus in New Brunswick, Barchi also oversees campuses in Camden and Newark.
8. Virginia Tech
Charles W. Steger, president of Virginia Tech
Total compensation: $745,195
Base salary: $466,191
Money's Best Colleges rank: 48
7. University of Delaware
Patrick T. Harker, president of the University of Delaware
Total compensation: $800,156
Base salary: $682,502
Money Best Colleges rank: 65
6. University of Houston
Renu Khator, president of University of Houston
Total compensation: $850,000
Base salary: $700,000
Money Best Colleges rank: 473
Note: Khator is also chancellor of the University of Houston system, which has four universities.
5. University of Illinois at Chicago
Paula Allen-Meares, former chancellor of University of Illinois at Chicago
Total compensation: $872,458
Base salary: $422,458
Money Best Colleges rank: 154
4. Washington State University
Elson S. Floyd, former president of Washington State University (now deceased)
Total compensation: $877,250
Base salary: $725,000
Money Best Colleges rank: 96
3. Ohio State University
Joseph A. Alutto, former interim president at Ohio State University
Total compensation: $996,169
Base salary: $634,572
Money Best Colleges rank: 134
2. Texas A&M University
R. Bowen Loftin, former president of Texas A&M University
Total compensation: $1,128,957
Base salary: $155,525
Money Best Colleges rank: 20
Note: Loftin's total compensation is for a partial year as president of Texas A&M. He left mid-year for position at a different university.
1. Pennsylvania State University
Rodney A. Erickson, former president of Pennsylvania State University
Total compensation: $1,494,603
Base salary: $633,336
Money Best Colleges rank: 157
Note: The president of Penn State's flagship campus also has some administrative responsibilities for the other 23 branch campuses that make up the university, though each campus has its own president or chancellor.