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Salaries put some college presidents in millionaire’s club — not in Illinois

Updated: June 23, 2014 12:09PM

The number of college presidents earning million-dollar salaries, unheard of a decade ago, is slowly increasing — but Illinois has yet to put its higher education leaders into the millionaires’ club, according to a study released Sunday.

The report by The Chronicle of Higher Education shows that nine chief executives earned more than $1 million in total compensation in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, up from four in 2011-2012 and three in 2010-2011.

Total compensation includes base salary, benefits and deferred compensation. The survey ranked 227 public research universities. The publication’s ranking of private schools comes out in the fall. The highest-paid public university president in 2012-13, both in base pay and total compensation, was E. Gordon Gee, former president of Ohio State University who is now president at West Virginia University. His total compensation topped $6 million, and his base pay totaled just over $850,000, according to the data.

The study focuses on academic leaders, but points out that sports coaches are often the highest-paid employees at public universities. For coaches who are among the five highest-paid employees at their university, their average take-home compensation is more than double the university president’s salary, the Chronicle reports. However, many coaches’ salaries are paid by athletic foundations and other revenues rather than by the taxpayers.

Illini football coach Tim Beckman, the highest-paid employee in the University of Illinois’ history at $1.6 million, earns more than double that of U of I President Robert A. Easter’s $478,892 total compensation, but Beckman’s pay comes from athletics-related income such as ticket sales, concessions, advertising, sponsorships and broadcast programming, said university spokesman Thomas Hardy.

In Illinois, the leaders of U of I’s biggest campuses — Chancellors Phyllis Wise at the flagship Urbana-Champaign campus and Paula Allen-Meares at the Chicago campus — also earned higher total compensation than the head of the entire university system, according to the study.

Wise’s total compensation of $641,392, ranking her 45th nationwide and including a base salary of $512,500, topped Easter’s $478,892 total and his $450,000 base salary. Easter ranked 95th in the nation. Allen-Meares’ compensation of $540,644 topped Easter’s and put her ranking at 75th, but her base salary of $411,752 was less than Easter’s, according to the results.

The University of Illinois officials’ pay fell out of the top 25 compared with a year ago. Former University of Illinois president Michael Hogan, who resigned under pressure in March 2012 amid an admissions scandal, ranked No. 24 nationwide with total compensation of $680,525 in the prior survey.

In fact, the next president of U of I will likely earn “considerably greater” compensation than Easter because Easter came out of retirement to fill the post, and agreed to take the same salary as previous presidents Stanley Ikenberry and B. Joseph White, spokesman Hardy said. A selection committee is searching for a new president. Easter’s term expires in June 2015.

Other Illinois higher-education officials on the list were:

** John G. Peters, former president, Northern Illinois University, who stepped down June 30, 2013 — $423,988 total compensation (ranking 120th), including base salary of $337,491;

** C. Alvin Bowman, who retired as president of Illinois State University on May 15, 2013 — $420,000 total (127th) with $400,000 base pay;

** Glenn W. Poshard, a former congressman who retired as president of Southern Illinois University on May 1 — $381,886 (146th) with $326,820 base pay;

** Rita Cheng, chancellor at Southern Illinois University — $367,976 (160th) total, with base pay of $347,976;

** Geoffrey S. Obrzut, president and CEO of the Illinois Community College Board — $229,362 total (223rd), with $177,700 base pay;

** Sheri Noren Everts, provost at Illinois State University — $33,400 in base pay with no other compensation (254th).

Topping the list in Indiana was Michael A. McRobbie, president of Indiana University at Bloomington, with total compensation of $1.1 million (6th), including base pay of $544,848.


Twitter: @sandraguy

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