Facing uncertain prospects at the Capitol as the legislature deals with the state’s budget deficit, University of Connecticut officials have one political edge: The compensation of the school’s president has dropped several notches in national rankings.

Former President Michael Hogan’s $615,000 package put him at No. 2 among the nine “peer institutions” against which the school measures itself academically and financially.  And according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, his compensation ranked 15th among public universities during the 2009-10 school year.

pay chart

But the $535,000 package offered Susan Herbst, who will start in July, puts her sixth among the peer institutions for the next school year. Had it been in place during 2009-2010, UConn would have ranked about 30th nationally.

Michael Kirk, spokesman for the 30,000-student flagship university said trustees adjusted the incoming president’s pay to address the economic downturn.

“In light of that, [university officials] decided to scale back the salary that would be paid,” Kirk said. “This makes sense.”

The change is also likely to please state lawmakers who have expressed concern that administrative costs at the public colleges and universities is exorbitant.

Rep. Roberta B. Willis, D-Salisbury and co-chairwoman of the legislature’s Higher Education Committee, said she is pleased with the package, but had not been concerned by Hogan’s compensation. UConn “sets the bar for higher education” in the region, she said, so higher compensation seems reasonable.

However, she did fault Hogan for extravagant spending, including $49,000 a year to lease a house for him, despite UConn’s having spent $1 million to renovate the official presidents’ residence.

When Herbst was introduced in December as UConn’s new president, she joked that she would not be remodeling and planed to live in the president’s house.

“She saw the extravagance and it sounds like that’s not going to go on under her watch, including her own pay,” Willis said.

In addition to saving money by not to living in a separate residence, Herbst’s compensation package also saves in other areas. Her car allowance of $15,000 and retention bonus is $20,000 a year — half of Hogan’s — and her base salary is $77,500 less.

The Mirror also found UConn’s other top two administration positions — provost and chief financial officer — rank in the middle when compared to their peers in base salary compensation.

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