Private colleges and universities paid their presidents $436,429 on average in 2013, up 5.6 percent from 2012, the reports.
Based on an of the federal tax filings of nearly five hundred private nonprofit colleges with the largest endowments, the Chronicle found that thirty-two presidents were paid more than $1 million, down from thirty-six in 2012. The two longest-serving Ivy League presidents, Lee Bollinger of and Amy Gutmann of the , topped the list, with Bollinger earning just over $4.6 million in 2013, including $1.26 million in deferred compensation accrued over eleven years, and Gutman earning $3.06 million, including a $500,000 bonus for her work on a capital campaign that raised $4.3 billion. They were followed by Nido R. Qubein of in North Carolina, who earned just over $2.9 million, including $1.6 million in deferred compensation over three years. The analysis also found that, on average, a private college president's salary in 2013 accounted for about half of 1 percent of the institution's overall budget; the highest percentage was found at High Point, where Qubein earned $22,353 for every $1 million of expenditures.
David L. Cohen, chairman of the board of trustees at Penn, told the Chronicle that the school is among the most complicated higher education enterprises in the country, and that Gutmann's compensation should reflect that reality. "If you're going to recruit and retain the type of talent that you need to run a university of this complexity and to continue to advance this university's reputation and the quality of its product," said Cohen, "you have to fairly compensate individuals for doing that job."
The number-four spot on the list went to Richard M. Joel, who earned $2.5 million in 2013, including $1.6 million in deferred compensation, as president of , which has struggled with serious financial challenges; in 2014, Moody's Investors Service noted that the college had "severe operating deficits" that were expected to persist through 2016. Moshael J. Straus, the university's board chair, told the Chronicle that "Joel and his team have navigated many challenges, and today the university is well positioned to further its unique mission and provide students with a world-class educational experience."
Still, with tuition at most colleges and universities continuing to outpace inflation, there is more discussion about how presidential compensation is perceived by faculty members, students, and the news media, said Jason M. Adwin, a senior vice president at Sibson Consulting. "Executive pay is an emotional topic, especially in an environment where tuition is so expensive," said Adwin, "and faculty professors look at compensation and the merit increases that they are getting in comparison to president pay."