Study finds pay for public college presidents up 5.3 percent

Presidents of U.S. public colleges and universities saw their earnings climb by 5.3 percent last year, with several of them topping $1 million, according to an annual survey.

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s study of more than 150 college presidents found that their average annual pay increased in fiscal year 2016 to $501,000.

Among the top earners were eight public university presidents whose total compensation exceeded $1 million, up from five the year before, the study found. Most of them come from the nation’s largest schools and university systems.

Topping the Chronicle’s salary ranking was Arizona State University’s president, Michael Crow, who received almost $1.6 million last year. Along with a base salary of $838,000, he received an annual bonus of $150,000 and a 10-year retention bonus of $550,000 paid by the university’s private foundation.

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Arizona State officials noted that Crow’s retention bonus was a one-time payment and that he was eligible for an additional $900,000 that instead went to the university’s Public Service Academy.

The Arizona Board of Regents, the governing body of Arizona State, called Crow “a remarkable leader of the highest caliber” and said he has boosted student success and the state’s economy.

“Under President Crow’s leadership, the four-year graduation rate for Arizona residents has nearly doubled since 2002 and research expenditures are on a strong trajectory of growth, having nearly quadrupled during the same time,” board vice chair Bill Ridenour said by email.

Following Crow were the chancellor of the University of Texas System, William McRaven, and the chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, John Sharp.

The survey found that two presidents received base salaries of $1 million or more last year, a threshold that had no public university chief had previously crossed in the study’s…

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