The Chronicle of Higher Education has released facts and figures on 2012 executive compensation at private colleges. In 2012, 36 private college presidents earned more than $1 million, with the highest being paid more than $7 million. I was curious what might determine those high salaries, so I plotted the data for the top 30 highest paid presidents as a function of the institutional expenditures they oversee (as a proxy for the scope of what each president does). Most of these compensation packages actually fall in a relative tight band between $1 and $2 million, no matter what the level of institutional expenditures (the group includes such varied universities as Yale, NYU, Drexel, and Trinity College).
According to The Chronicle’s data, four extremely well compensated presidents stand out as dramatic outliers: Shirley Jackson (RPI), $7.1M; John Lahey (Quinnipiac), $3.8M; Lee Bollinger (Columbia), $3.4M; and Amy Gutmann (Penn), $2.5M. For Bollinger, Gutman, and perhaps Lahey one can make some argument for their high level of compensation, but Shirley Jackson at RPI is (almost literally) off the chart.