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June 11, 2015

Nordenberg pay ranked 32nd in survey

Chancellor Nordenberg

Chancellor Nordenberg

An annual Chronicle of Higher Education survey of public university chief executive compensation ranked Mark A. Nordenberg No. 32 among 227 chief executives in fiscal year 2014.

Not included in his total compensation of $597,500 was $71,700 in retirement compensation, the survey reported.

Nordenberg likewise ranked No. 32 of 240 public university CEOs in FY13, with total compensation of $580,000 and $69,600 in retirement.

Total compensation included base pay, bonus, deferred compensation paid out and severance.

The FY14 survey, released this month, revealed a median of $428,250 in total compensation for public university CEOs who served for the full fiscal year, up nearly 7 percent over the prior year.

The Chronicle’s survey included public doctoral universities as well as state college and university systems or governing boards with at least three campuses and 50,000 students in the 2013-14 academic year.

Top five nationwide

Penn State’s Rodney A. Erickson ranked No. 1 nationwide. His base pay of $633,336 was bolstered by $586,267 in deferred compensation paid, $150,000 in bonus pay and $125,000 in severance for total compensation of $1,494,603.

In addition, the survey reported retirement compensation of $78,150.

R. Bowen Loftin of Texas A&M University-College Station followed at No. 2.

Loftin’s partial-year compensation of nearly $1.13 million included $850,000 in severance pay. He left Texas A&M in January 2014 to become chancellor of the University of Missouri.

Ranking third with $996,169 was Joseph A. Alutto, who served as interim president of Ohio State University July 2013-June 2014.

Elson S. Floyd of Washington State University ranked No. 4 with total compensation of $877,250 (made up of $725,000 in base pay and $152,250). Not counted in the total was $26,000 in retirement compensation.

At No. 5 was Paula Allen-Meares of the University of Illinois-Chicago. She earned $872,458. Less than half was attributed to base pay ($422,458) with $450,000 in deferred compensation. In addition, she had retirement pay of $29,224.

Pennsylvania’s other publics

Erickson and Nordenberg ranked first and second among the six leaders at Pennsylvania state schools who were included in the FY14 survey.

Neil Theobald of Temple ranked third with $480,000 in total compensation; Eric J. Barron, who took the helm at Penn State in May 2014, ranked fourth with $381,818; Michael Allan Driscoll of Indiana University of Pennsylvania was fifth with $282,064, and Frank T. Brogan, who became chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education in October 2013, was sixth with $245,625.

Pay in relation to student tuition & faculty pay

The Chronicle reported that the median public college president’s pay was 50 times the median student tuition; it ranged from more than 112 times tuition at the University of South Florida main campus to 16.21 times tuition at Florida State.

Nordenberg’s compensation was the equivalent of 34.94 times the median student tuition.

His base pay was 4.44 times the average full-professor salary of $134,559.


Nordenberg, who served as Pitt’s chancellor from June 1995 to August 2014, had been in office longer than all but six of the public university presidents in the survey.

The longest serving was Diana S. Natalicio, who became president of the University of Texas-El Paso in February 1988, followed by John Fitzsimmons of the Maine Community College system (February 1990); John C. Hitt of the University of Central Florida (March 1992); Freeman A. Hrabowski III of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (May 1992); Henry T. Yang of the University of California-Santa Barbara (June 1994), and David L. Boren of the University of Oklahoma-Norman (November 1994). All but Fitzsimmons, who resigned in March, remain in office.

The full public-college pay survey can be found online at

—Kimberly K. Barlow