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May 31, 2012

Chancellor’s pay ranked 40th among U.S. publics

nordenbergChancellor Mark Nordenberg ranked 40th nationally in compensation for U.S. public university chief executive officers in fiscal year 2011, according to a survey released last week by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Chronicle survey data show the compensation received in the 2010-11 year by 199 chief executives at 190 public universities and systems in the United States. (At some schools more than one president served during FY11. All people who served in the capacity of chief executive were used in the analysis, including interim leaders if they served for at least six months.)

The Chronicle analysis included U.S. public colleges and their affiliated systems that were classified as research universities by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2010.

The four-year institutions included in the survey comprise universities with total fall enrollments of at least 10,000 and universities with smaller enrollments that are state flagships. The cohort was set based on fall 2009 enrollments because more recent figures were not available at the time of the survey’s distribution, the Chronicle stated.

Total compensation is defined in the Chronicle survey as the sum of base pay, bonus pay, terminal pay, deferred compensation-paid and deferred compensation-set aside. Many of the higher education leaders also receive provisions, such as use of a house and car and the institution’s contributions to retirement/pension plans, which are not included in the total compensation figure.

Benefits such as club dues and expense accounts are listed as part of compensation, but no dollar amount for such benefits is added to total compensation, the Chronicle stated.

According to the Chronicle, “In 2010-11, median total compensation for public-college presidents was $421,395, up about 3 percent from the previous year.” Fourteen presidents earned at least $700,000 in 2010-11.

In the Chronicle survey, Nordenberg’s $561,500 in base pay is equal to his total compensation. The chancellor also received use of a house and car and the University’s contributions to retirement/pension, valued by the Chronicle as a total of $67,380.

While not reflected in the Chronicle data, Nordenberg’s initial base pay for FY11 was set in December 2010 by the Pitt trustees compensation committee at $486,500. But in December 2011, trustees revealed that $75,000 under the final year of a retention bonus incentive plan begun in 2002 had been rolled into the chancellor’s base pay, thus, the $561,500 figure reported in the Chronicle.

(See Dec. 8, 2011, University Times.)

According to the Chronicle’s 2010-11 survey, at other Pennsylvania four-year public institutions:

• Penn State’s former president Graham B. Spanier, who resigned his position last November, ranked No. 3 nationally, earning $1,068,763 in total compensation in FY11. That included $660,002 in base salary; $200,000 in bonus pay; $208,761 in deferred compensation set aside, and provisions such as use of a house and car and contributions to retirement/pension valued at $22,760.

• Former Temple president Ann Weaver Hart ranked No. 19 nationally, earning $655,000 in total compensation. Her compensation included $580,000 in base salary; $75,000 in deferred compensation, and use of a house and car and contributions to retirement/pension, valued at $32,519.

• Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Chancellor John C. Cavanaugh ranked No. 141 nationally, earning $327,500 in total compensation. Cavanaugh also received use of a house and car and contributions to retirement/pension, valued at $22,760.

• David J. Werner, president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, ranked No. 181 nationally, earning $253,428 in total compensation and a car allowance, use of house and retirement/pension contributions, valued at $22,658.

According to the Chronicle survey, three presidents earned more than $1 million in FY11. The top-paid leader of a public institution was E. Gordon Gee of Ohio State University at $1,992,221. He was followed by Michael D. McKinney of Texas A&M University System at $1,966,347 and Spanier at $1,068,763.

The Chronicle survey report can be accessed online at

—Peter Hart

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