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Million-Dollar-Plus College Presidents

New numbers out on what college presidents make and plenty are making a bundle.  We look at the whys of those big paychecks.

Robert Zimmer, president, University of Chicago, speaks during a panel discussion, "2012: The Path to the Presidency", at the University of Chicago in Chicago on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012.  He was listed as the highest-paid college president in America in a 2013 report by The Chronicle Of Higher Education. (AP)

Robert Zimmer, president, University of Chicago, speaks during a panel discussion, “2012: The Path to the Presidency”, at the University of Chicago in Chicago on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. He was listed as the highest-paid college president in America in a 2013 report by The Chronicle Of Higher Education. (AP)

Top pay package for a US college president in the latest listing? $3.3 million for Robert Zimmer, the head of the University of Chicago.  Not bad.  And right behind him on the top-paid president’s list, a lot more good packages. $3.1 million, 2.6 million, 2.3, 2.2.  Time was when we pictured college presidents as kindly, wise scholars in slightly frayed tweed coats.  No more.  The latest listing shows forty-two private college presidents making a million-plus.  Student debt’s at an all-time high.  College teachers aren’t rolling in dough.  This hour On Point:  what’s up with college presidents’ pay?

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Jack Stripling, senior reporter covering college leadership and presidential compensation for The Chronicle of Higher Education. (@JackStripling)

Raymond Cotton, partner at the Law firm of Mintz Levin and Vice President for Higher Education at ML Strategies, LLC.

Claire Potter, professor of history at the New School. (@tenuredradical)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Chronicle Of Higher Education: Boards Justify High Pay for Presidents — “Mr. Zimmer occupies a rarefied stratum of higher education, leading one of just 10 private colleges with budgets greater than $3-billion. Some compensation experts say that the university’s budget, and by extension its complexity, helps explain why a board would pay Mr. Zimmer on a scale that is sure to get attention, and that could prompt criticism for a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization like the University of Chicago.”

Chicago Tribune: U. of C. president tops national pay chart –“Zimmer, 66, had made $1.6 million the previous year, placing him as the ninth highest-paid president. His large salary boost in 2011 — five years into the job — was due mostly to $1.3 million that had come due that year. That amount made up about 40 percent of his compensation and pushed him to the spot of the highest-paid president. Because it is a one-time payment, Zimmer is likely not to remain the highest-paid president in future years.”

CNN: Big debt for students, big perks for university elites — “The corporate university eliminates full-time teaching jobs whenever possible. It relies on temporary academic laborers who have few or no benefits and median salaries of $2,700 per course, salary stagnation for the majority of academic and nonacademic employees, the reduction or elimination of union jobs, and the outsourcing of essential services to corporate providers who pay minimum wage or less.”

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