Grassley on University Presidents’ Salaries, Many Increase Despite Economic Downturn
***** EMBARGOED until Monday, Nov. 17, 2008, at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time *****
M E M O R A N D U M
To: Reporters and Editors
Fr: Jill Gerber for Sen. Grassley, 202/224-6522
Re: College presidents’ salaries
Da: Friday, Nov. 14, 2008
Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Committee on Finance, made the
following comment on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s survey of college presidents’
salaries. Grassley conducts oversight of various tax-exempt-related issues and entities,
including colleges. The comment is embargoed, per the survey’s embargo (please see
“The Chronicle’s study shows that the executive suite seems insulated from
budget crunches. While endowment values and pay-outs for financial aid may be
decreasing, there’s still money for the president's salary increase. The College Board's
recent survey indicates that tuition increases are likely next year. The presidents' salary
boost and tuition hikes regularly outpace inflation, just like coaches'. It's surprising that
many public universities are raising their presidents' salaries. They've argued against an
endowment payout requirement, saying state budget crunches force them to fund more of
their own operations than private institutions have to. In these hard economic times,
apparently belt-tightening is for families and students, not university presidents. Maybe
the salary increases can be justified, but students, parents, and university boards should
have full information so they can decide for themselves. More transparency of expenses
through a new Form 990 schedule would at least help keep the public informed.”
HOLD FOR RELEASE UNTIL Monday, Nov. 17, 2008, at 12:01 a.m.
College Executive Pay Continues to Climb, According to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s 16th Annual Executive Compensation Survey
WASHINGTON, DC – Nov. 17, 2008 – Even as parents and students worry about the
rising cost of college amid an economic downturn, the pay of top higher education
leaders continues to grow, particularly for public-university presidents, according to
results of The Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual executive compensation survey,
published today. A pre-release telephone press conference is scheduled for Friday, Nov.
14; details below.
For public research universities, executive pay increased 7.6% (FY ‘07-’08). And while
total compensation held steady for leaders of private research institutions, presidential
pay at private master’s and bachelor’s institutions climbed 6% (FY ’06-’07). The salary
gap is closing for public research university presidents and their private counterparts:
Those paid over $700,000 nearly doubled from the year before – from 8 to 15. And
nearly one-third of presidents at public research institutions now make over $500,000.
“Salaries of college presidents always get scrutiny,” said Jeffrey J. Selingo, editor of The
Chronicle of Higher Education, which first published the executive compensation survey
in 1989, and has done so annually since 1993. “But this year, students, parents, trustees,
and lawmakers are likely to take a closer look at whether presidents are worth the cost
given how worried families are about affording tuition as everyone is feeling a bit
Highest paid college and university presidents
The most highly compensated university executive is David J.
Sargent, Suffolk University, Boston, whose package totals $2,800,461. Among public
universities, number-one spot goes to E. Gordon Gee, Ohio State University, with
$1,346,225. Other top-paid private university presidents are: Henry S.
Bienen, Northwestern University, Chicago ($1,742,560) and Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia
University, New York ($1,411,894).
Pay increases draw scrutiny, especially amid economic turmoil
Some college leaders have handed back their bonus or turned down raises, including
those at Rutgers University, the University of Connecticut,
the University of Louisville, Rowan University, and Brevard Community College.
Nonetheless, federal lawmakers have expressed concern about presidential pay increases
at a time of rising tuition and tight student aid.
“The Chronicle’s study shows that the executive suite seems insulated from budget
crunches,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) told The
Chronicle’s editors when shown this year’s survey results earlier this month. “In these
hard economic times, apparently belt-tightening is for families and students, not
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