alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.

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.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.