Home > Uncategorized > “It’s like they’re running a business, a real business” (4 tables)

“It’s like they’re running a business, a real business” (4 tables)

from David Rucciocomunity college leaders cash in_0

As Donald Trump put it: “You look at the kind of salaries paid to the heads of the colleges—it’s like they’re running a business, a real business.”

Indeed they are, to judge by the salaries reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education, for 2013. 


The median salary for private-college presidents in office for the full year was $436,429. Thirty-two of the presidents earned more than $1 million. At the very top was Columbia University’s Lee Bollinger, who took home over $4.5 million in total compensation.


The median base pay in 2013 was $347,789, with New York University’s John Sexton taking top honors, with more than $1.2 million.


The Chronicle also calculated the tuitions equivalent to total compensation. In 2013, the median presidential pay for private colleges was 12.06 times the median tuition, starting with 97.14 times tuition at Columbia University.


And then there’s presidential compensation in comparison to expenses. While the median presidential pay for private colleges was $4837.1 per $1 million in total expenditures, Nido Qubein of High Point University managed to get more than $22 thousand—for a total compensation of $2,909,148.

Finally, to put things in a different perspective, the compensation of private college presidents climbed 5.6 percent between 2012 and 2013, to a median of $436,000. According to the AAUP (pdf), faculty salaries at private-independent colleges and universities increased by only 2.6 percent: 3 percent for Full Professors, 2.5 percent for Associate Professors, 2.1 percent for Assistant Professors, and 1.7 percent for Instructors.*

And then, of course, there’s the non-faculty staff at private colleges. According to the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (pdf), the median increase in salary for non-exempt staff at private institutions was only 2 percent.

So, what can we conclude? The discrepancies between the pay increases of private college presidents and the faculty and staff who work for them clearly indicate that, yes, “it’s like they’re running a business, a real business.”

*I wasn’t able to find comparable data on Adjunct Professors. However, according to Laura McKenna, using 2012 data, some of the private colleges with the highest-paid presidents also had very high percentages of adjunct faculty. For example, Columbia University had 60 percent adjuncts while the percentage at New York University was even higher: 79. Let’s say the average annual salary of Adjunct Professors was $20 thousand in 2013 (according to an NPR report), then the ratio of president’s compensation to adjunct salary at Columbia University was about 230 and, at New York University, 73.

  1. December 9, 2015 at 5:58 am

    What the hell do you expect. This is the way “free markets” work. Those in charge “negotiate” higher and higher compensation, with no increase in responsibilities or performance. I keep saying markets are not a workable solution for almost any sort of concern. And they certainly aren’t for compensating university presidents or “real business” CEOs. But I’m just a historian. What do I know?

  2. Dave Raithel
    December 9, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    I get Ruccio’s point. The fascist Trump’s point is what?

  3. charlie
    December 11, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    for all universitys in Arizona the football coaches and basketball coaches ar the highest paid in the state …

  4. charlie
    December 11, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    universities (keyboard issues sorry)

  5. Hepion
    December 13, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    From exploitation of labor to exploitation of students

    I think Marx misdiagnosed a bit. This is a general problem of use of power, not a problem in capitalism per se. Communist countries also suffered from this, as the saying “all are equal, but some are just more equal than others” signifyes

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