College Execs have Private Jets? New Report Finds Public University Presidents Live Large

A new report released by The Chronicle of Higher Education on Monday revealed that public university presidents in the U.S. are doing quite well financially.


The report lists public university presidents’ compensation for the 2012 fiscal year.  Graham Spanier, former president of Penn State University, who was forced out after his handling of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse tragedy, topped the list by bringing in $2.9 million. This includes a base pay of nearly $351,000, a deferred pay of $1.2 million and a severance package of $1.2 million.

Jack Stripling, the Chronicle reporter who worked on the survey, told The New York Times: “The fact that Graham Spanier turns out to be the highest paid president in the country says something about the nature of compensation packages for people who leave under a cloud. … Severance agreements are often very lucrative.”

Following Spanier, Jay Gogue of Auburn University had a compensation package of $2.5 million, and E. Gordon Gee of Ohio State University $1.9 million. Gee received the highest base pay of all the public university presidents at $830,439. The New York Times reported that Gee enjoys a “lavish lifestyle,” which includes “a rent-free mansion with an elevator, a pool and a tennis court and flights on private jets.”

Stripling told the Times that public university presidents have seen much growth in their compensation packages over the years. The $600,000 to $700,000 compensation package range saw the highest growth, as it included 28 presidents in 2012 — up from 13 in 2011.

An increase in deferred compensation also accounts for some of the compensation package growth, as Gogue’s compensation, for instance, went from $720,000 to $2.5 million in one year after completing a five-year contract.

Overall, the median compensation package in 2012 was $441,392 — up 4.7 percent from 2011’s $421,395. The median base salary in 2012 was $373,800 — up 2 percent from 2011’s $366,519.

Meanwhile, for students, life is quite far from lavish. The median student loan debt in the U.S. is $13,600, with the average being $24,301. In total, the amount of student loan debt owed in the U.S. is $1 trillion. Funding for public universities has been cut by about 28 percent since 2008, while the cost of attending one has more than doubled since 1988. Come July 1, the interest rates on subsidized federal Stafford loans are set to double — from 3.4 to 6.8 percent — if Congress doesn’t take action.

#story_page_ below_article

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.