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2 public college presidents earn over $1M in pay in annual ranking

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WASHINGTON — Fewer public college presidents hit the $1 million mark in earnings in 2014 compared with the previous year, according to a new survey.

The Chronicle of Higher Education study found that two college presidents at public universities received more than $1 million in total compensation in the 2014 fiscal year — Rodney A. Erickson, former president of Pennsylvania State University, and R. Bowen Loftin, former president of Texas A&M University. The Chronicle's survey for the previous fiscal year found nine college presidents exceeding $1 million in pay, though data from one school was later readjusted, leaving eight presidents earning more than a million.

The Chronicle changed its methodology for total compensation in this year's survey to include only deferred compensation that was paid out. Previously, deferred compensation that was promised to presidents if they remained on the job was factored into total compensation. Under the new methodology, three of the public college presidents in the 2013 fiscal year would have exceeded the $1 million mark.

The survey being released Sunday examined pay for chief executives at 220 public universities and school systems. It found the median salary for presidents who served a full year was $428,250.

Total compensation for former Penn State President Erickson was nearly $1.5 million, but the Chronicle said a significant portion of that was because he took ownership of his balance in a university-sponsored life insurance plan valued at $586,000.

Loftin, the former Texas A&M president, earned $1.1 million. Most of that was a severance of $850,000 that was paid out in 2014, the survey said.

The Chronicle calculates total compensation for public college presidents as base salary, plus bonus, severance and deferred compensation that was paid out. Used as a retention tool, deferred compensation is typically lost if a college president leaves the school early.

Erickson retired in May 2014 after 37 years at Penn State as a faculty member and administrator. Loftin is now chancellor of the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Among the other presidents on the Chronicle's list of top earners are Elson S. Floyd at Washington State University, who earned just over $877,000, and at the University of Delaware, with $800,156 in compensation.

The Chronicle takes a separate look at private-college pay. Its most recent review of data from 2012 found 36 private college presidents earning at least $1 million.


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