University CEOs Earned More than Their Public Sector

How Private University CEOs Earned More than Their Public Sector Counterparts in 2018

In 2018, the CEOs of 62 private universities over $1 million in total compensation, including bonuses and deferred payments. The Chronicle of Higher Education revealed this in its latest update on executive compensation at public and private universities.

The Top Earning CEO 2018 (C.L. Max Nikias)

C.L. Max Nikias was the highest-paid university leader in 2018, earning more than $7 million as President of the University of Southern California. In 2020, the Los Angeles Times reported that the former USC CEO was paid a whopping $7.6 million before being forced to resign his post.

The Private University Millionaires Club   

Second on the list of top-earning private university CEOs in 2018 was Robert J. Zimmer (University of Chicago), who earned a total of $5,976,635. That year, he earned $1,325,536 and $4,120,316 in base and bonus payments, respectively.

Stephen K. Klasko (Thomas Jefferson University) was third on the list after receiving 5,386,357 in executive compensation. His annual compensation included a base pay of $1,488,192 and a $1,000,000 bonus.

These statistics by Chronicle confirm the tendency of private higher education institutions to pay higher salaries than their public sector counterparts. Even so, not all private university leaders earned as much as their peers that year.

Some of them made less than $200,000, such as Linda M. Bevilacqua, President of Barry University.

Executive Compensation at Public Universities (2019)

During the year of the pandemic’s onset (2019), 19 leaders (presidents and chancellors) at public universities earned a total salary of one million dollars or more. The average pay for these executives that year was $544,136.

  • Mark P. Becker was at the top of the list after making $2,806,517 that year. Becker is the President of Georgia State University.
  • Steven Leath of Auburn University came second on the list, having earned $1,836,226 in total compensation.
  • Michael K. Young, President of Texas A&M University, followed closely at $1,610,977 in overall yearly earnings.
  • Michael V. Drake earned $1,415,707 at Ohio State University. He later retired from his position and joined the University of California as its President.
  • John Sharp, Chancellor of Texas A&M University, made $1,341,598.
  • Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus, Patrick Gallagher, was paid $1,211,343.
  • The University of Virginia paid its President, James Edward Ryan, $1,188,910.

Some public campus executives that earned $200,000 or more in total compensation that year include:

  • The interim president of the University of West Georgia, John Micheal Crafton (made $261,511).
  • The interim president of George Mason University, Anne Holton (made $261,660)

As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted economic activities and the entire education system, university budgets were bound to suffer. Many of these institutions responded to the crisis by implementing drastic cost-reduction measures, including furloughs and pay cuts.

Last year, the University of Arizona announced that it anticipated a $250 million loss due to the pandemic. Its survival contingency measures included 17% or higher pay cuts for employees earning $150,000 or more, with lower-income earners at the university taking unpaid working days amounting to a 5% pay decrease at minimum.

Once the Chronicle releases their annual higher-education executive compensation report for 2020, it’ll be easier to get a bigger and clearer picture of the pandemic’s impact on university payrolls.

Are you interested in higher education management advice or looking for a consulting firm with experience with higher education institutions or medical centers?  Then don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at McKnight Associates, Inc.  We are ready to offer you hands-on human resources consulting for colleges, universities, medical centers, and organizations of all sizes.