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May 16, 2013

Nordenberg compensation ranks No. 40 among publics

Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg’s nearly $629,000 in total compensation in fiscal year 2012 placed him at No. 40 nationally in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s latest survey of executive compensation at public colleges.

Nordenberg ranked No. 40 in last year’s survey among the heads of 190 public universities and university systems. (See May 31, 2012, University Times.) In The Chronicle’s 2011 survey, Nordenberg’s FY10 compensation placed him at No. 30 among 185 public university heads. (See April 14, 2011, University Times.)

The FY12 survey, released earlier this week, included public research universities and affiliated systems with enrollments of at least 10,000, and state flagship universities with smaller enrollments. It included 214 entries, made up of 212 chief executives at 191 public universities and systems. According to the survey’s data notes, some universities had more than one president during the 2012 fiscal year and some presidents served at more than one institution during the fiscal year.

The survey included “all individuals who served in the capacity of chief executive, including interim leaders,” and partial-year figures were reported for presidents who did not serve for the entire year. The Chronicle also publishes a separate survey on compensation for the heads of private institutions using different criteria that do not directly compare with the public executives’ pay survey.

Nordenberg’s total compensation of $628,880 included $561,500 in base compensation (89.3 percent of the total) and $67,380 in retirement benefits. It included no compensation in the remaining components: bonus pay, deferred compensation paid out, deferred compensation set aside and severance pay.

Additional benefits were a University-owned house, the value of which was not reported, and a University-owned Honda CR-V valued at $18,480.


Although he was fired as president of Penn State in November 2011, in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal, Graham Spanier ranked at the top of The Chronicle of Higher Education’s FY12 survey with total compensation of more than $2.9 million. His base pay of $350,959 made up just 12.1 percent of the total, with the remainder coming from $1.248 million in deferred pay, $1.225 million in severance and $82,557 in retirement benefits.

Rounding out the top five were Auburn’s Jay Gogue, $2.54 million, including $482,070 base pay; Ohio State’s E. Gordon Gee, $1.9 million, including $830,439 base pay; George Mason’s Alan G. Merten, $1.87 million, including $427,369 base pay, and Ball State’s Jo Ann M. Gora, $984,647, including $431,244 base pay.

At the bottom of the national list were 14 leaders whose total compensation figures were for part of the fiscal year. Lowest was the $46,250 paid to Robert G. Frank, who took the helm at the University of New Mexico main campus in June 2012.

Timothy J. Donovan of the Vermont State Colleges system had the lowest full-year compensation in the survey. He ranked No. 200 with total compensation of $217,056.


Pennsylvania institutions

Of six presidents of Pennsylvania institutions listed in the survey, Nordenberg ranked third behind Penn State’s Spanier and Temple’s Ann Weaver Hart. Hart’s total compensation of $688,073 ranked No. 20 nationally. She stepped down as Temple president in June 2012.

Rodney Erickson, who succeeded Spanier at Penn State in November 2011, ranked No. 63 nationally with total part-year compensation of $549,364. (Like most institutions in the survey, Penn State’s fiscal year is July 1-June 30.)

John C. Cavanaugh, who headed the State System of Higher Education, ranked No. 158 with total compensation of $351,427. Cavanaugh left earlier this year to become president and CEO of the 14-member Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area.

David J. Werner, interim president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania from August 2010 through June 2012, had the lowest pay of the six Pennsylvania leaders listed. He ranked No. 190 with total compensation of $276,279.


The survey can be found online at

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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