Presidents’ pay under scrutiny as public colleges slash budgets

As financially-strapped states cut spending on higher education, well-paid public university presidents face a tough balancing act, Jack Stripling and Andrea Fuller say at The Chronicle of Higher Education. They must argue that their institutions’ budget have been cut to the bone, while enjoying salaries and perks the far outstrip those of typical taxpayers or public employees.

Some presidents and the boards of trustees that set their compensation levels have taken steps to manage public perceptions. Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee, by far the highest-paid public university chief executive at more than $1.3 million, donates some of his salary for scholarships. At the University of Central Florida, up to 30 percent of President John C. Hitt’s $673,500 total compensation depends on hitting specific performance benchmarks. And the University System of Maryland adopted a policy that sets salaries for top executives at the 75th percentile of peer organizations.