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December 03, 2008
Highly-Paid University Presidents Vow to Give Some Money Back
University presidents have been enjoying large pay raises lately—and a report by the Chronicle of Higher Education highlighting their median salaries prompted some of them to vow to give some of the money back.

According to the survey report, between 2007 and 2008, public university presidents’ pay and benefits rose 7.6 percent, and their median salary is $427,400. An article in the New York Times (www.nytimes.com) notes that while presidents of private universities are more likely to have seven-figure pay packages, more public university presidents are now joining them. Over a 5-year period, compensation rose 36 percent for public university presidents, compared with 19 percent for their counterparts in private universities, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education survey.

The spotlight on the pay of university presidents apparently prompted some of the most highly-paid among them to vow to “give back part of their pay or forgo their raises” according to the Times.

Among them: Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania (one of eight private university presidents earning more than $1 million in 2006, according to the Times) who says she will give back $100,000 to support undergraduate research, and, Elson S. Floyd, president of Washington State University, who made $600,000 in his first year as president, who said he would take a voluntary $100,000 cut in pay. Meanwhile, others, like Mark Emmert, president of the University of Washington (currently making a $900,000 salary) have reportedly decided to forgo their raises altogether this year.

Pat Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, told the Times that these actions by university presidents were a “belated recognition that this presidential pay thing has gotten out of hand. People are getting tuition increases, some faculty are facing layoffs, it just doesn’t look too good for presidents, no matter how capable they are, to be getting so much money.”

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