President Profiles

Highest Paid Private College Presidents, 2009

President Total compensation 1-year change
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Executive Pay Continues to Rise

We surveyed presidential pay at 482 private colleges with expenditures more than $50-million in 2009, using federal tax returns.

Category Median 1-year change
Total compensation $385,909 +2.2%
Base pay $294,489 +2.8%
Professor compensation $118,150 –0.3%
College expenditures $103.5-million +2.6%
Expenditures and professors’ compensation, which includes full professors only, are for the 2010 fiscal year.
Name of college president featured

Income Disparity at the Top

Some private-college chiefs earn 10 times more than their faculty, and others eat big shares of overall budgets.

Compare Presidential and Professor Pay

Presidential and Professor Pay Scatterplot

See which presidents made many more times than their professors did, and how your president stacks up.

By Josh Keller and Andrea Fuller / Feedback? Let us know.

About these data

These data show the compensation received in 2009 by 519 chief executives at 482 private, nonprofit colleges in the United States.

The Chronicle compiled compensation data from the Internal Revenue Service’s Form 990, which is filed by most major nonprofit entities. We obtained each institution’s form from the college or from GuideStar, an organization that posts the documents online.

+ More information about the data

Our analysis for 2009 included private colleges that were classified as research, master’s, and baccalaureate institutions by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2010, and had at least $50-million in expenditures in 2009-10. The data exclude colleges that claimed religious exemption from filing the Form 990.

Because of changes in the IRS Form 990 during the 2008-9 tax year, compensation is reported by calendar year, and revenues and expenditures are reported by fiscal year.

At some colleges, more than one president served during 2009. All people who served in the capacity of chief executive were used in the analysis, including interim leaders if they served for at least six months. Sometimes salary data for a new or interim president may include compensation from a previous position at the same college within the same year. Partial-year presidents were excluded from analysis that compared presidential compensation with other variables.

Calculations for 2008 data are based on current methodology and may not match those previously published. Data for 2008 reflect 503 chief executives at 474 colleges.

Data on endowments were obtained from the National Association of College and University Business Officers for the 2009-10 fiscal year. Data on fund raising were obtained from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education for the 2009-10 fiscal year. Data on enrollments (fall 2009) and graduation rates (six-year rate for the 2003 cohort) were obtained from the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Graduation rates were based on first-time, full-time students seeking a bachelor’s degree. Ipeds data were not available for all campuses and were omitted at systems that lack a clear main campus.

Faculty compensation for the 2009-10 fiscal year, which includes the average pay and benefits for full professors except medical-school faculty, was obtained from the American Association of University Professors. Not all colleges report the data to AAUP each year; data for 2009 reflect 380 colleges, and data for 2008 reflect 376 colleges.

Biographical data and information about presidential tenures were obtained from college Web sites, newspaper archives, or university offices.

Megan Arellano, Robert Caldwell, Collin Eaton, Lacey Johnson, Brenda Medina, Armando Montaño, Molly Redden, and Alexandra Rice contributed research.