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April 14, 2011

Chancellor’s FY10 compensation 30th among publics

nordenbergChancellor Mark A. Nordenberg ranked 30th nationally in total compensation for public university chief executive officers in 2009-10, according to a survey released April 3 by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Chronicle survey used data from June 30, 2009, to July 1, 2010, for 185 four-year public universities and systems with total enrollments of at least 10,000 that are classified as either research universities or doctoral/research universities by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, as well as the university systems associated with them.

(A separate survey on compensation for private institutions’ chief executives was published by the Chronicle last fall.)

Nordenberg’s $535,000 total compensation package for 2009-10 included $460,000 in base salary and $75,000 in paid deferred compensation, under a Board of Trustees’ retention incentive plan that paid the chancellor $75,000 for remaining in his position until July 1, 2010.

Nordenberg’s 2009-10 base pay of $460,000 ranked 37th highest nationally among public institutions’ leaders.

For the first time in its annual survey, the Chronicle calculated public university presidential earnings two ways “to show that what a president costs a university in any given year is not necessarily the same as the dollar payout he or she receives that year,” the publication stated.

In addition to publishing the total compensation figure for each university leader, which it defined as the actual dollar amounts received by the chief executive that year for base salary, bonuses and paid deferred compensation, the Chronicle for the first time published the “total cost of employment.” It defined total cost of employment as what it cost the institution and state to employ a president, including base pay; bonuses; deferred compensation set aside but not yet paid; retirement contributions made on behalf of the chief executive to standard retirement plans, and provisions such as housing/car allowances and club dues when schools specified dollar amounts for those provisions.

Total cost of employment figures exclude any deferred compensation paid in the 2009-10 year. The Chronicle said that since deferred compensation sometimes is paid out at a later date, it excluded payouts from this category to avoid double-counting.

“Thus, data for 2009-10 are not comparable with data in previous Chronicle surveys of public-college leaders’ pay,” according to the publication.

According to the Chronicle survey, Nordenberg ranked No. 54 nationally in total cost of employment. But these rankings are less reliable because some institutions provide costs for university-provided housing, cars and membership dues, while others did not.

Nordenberg’s total cost of employment was $524,752. That figure included his $460,000 base salary and $64,752 in retirement pay, but excluded the retention plan’s paid deferred compensation. This figure also did not include the value of the chancellor’s residence, use of a car or membership dues, information that was provided to the Chronicle by some universities but not by others.

The survey reported that the median total compensation for the 185 public college presidents in 2009-10 was $375,442, and the median total cost of employment was $440,487.

In both the total compensation and total cost of employment categories, E. Gordon Gee, president of Ohio State University, topped the nation, earning $1,323,911 in total compensation. His total cost of employment was $1,818,911. Both figures include Gee’s base pay of $802,125, which also was the highest in the nation among public university CEOs.

Following Gee in terms of highest total cost of employment were: Mark A. Emmert, formerly at the University of Washington, $905,004; Francisco G. Cigarroa of the University of Texas System, $813,892, and John C. Hitt, University of Central Florida, $800,703.

Penn State President Graham B. Spanier ranked No. 5 nationally in highest total cost of employment at $800,592. That figure included $620,004 in base pay; $157,828 in accrued but not paid deferred compensation, and $22,760 in retirement pay. The total did not include the cost of Spanier’s university-supplied house, car and club dues allowances.

Spanier’s total compensation for 2009-10 was $620,004, rank-ing No. 13 nationally.

According to the Chronicle’s 2009-10 survey, at other Pennsylvania four-year public institutions:

Temple President Ann Weaver Hart ranked No. 13 nationally at $707,947 in total cost of employment. That included a base pay of $605,903; $75,000 in accrued but not paid deferred compensation, and $27,044 in retirement pay. That total did not include the cost of Hart’s university-supplied house and car.

Hart’s total compensation of $605,903 ranked 16th nationally in that category.

Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Chancellor John C. Cavanaugh’s total cost of employment was $357,595, ranked 130th nationally. Cavanaugh’s figures include $326,495 in base pay; $21,594 in retirement pay, and $9,505 provided by the state in car allowance.

Cavanaugh’s total compensation of $326,495 ranked 121st nationally.

Tony Atwater, former president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, ranked 168th nationally in total cost of employment at $276,971. That figure included $253,428 in base pay and $23,543 in retirement pay, but did not include costs for his house, car and club dues.

Atwater’s total compensation of $253,428 ranked 162nd.

The report can be accessed online at

—Peter Hart

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