How Much Are Public-College Presidents Paid?


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Data here may vary from what appeared in print, due to updates and corrections received after publication.

N/A Not applicable

* Did not serve as chief executive for the full year.


These data show the total compensation received by chief executives at public college and university systems in the 2020 calendar year.

All individuals who served as chief executive during this period, including interim and acting leaders, are included. Oftentimes, more than one chief executive served at an institution during a given year. Presidents who served less than the full year are noted.

Compensation values for all employees reflect the compensation earned from the institution (and associated foundations) across a calendar year, regardless of the role or roles held by those employees during the full year.

Photographs were obtained from college websites.

The Chronicle surveyed institutions to collect these public data. Our analysis generally includes all public doctoral universities (nonmilitary service) in the United States as well as all state college and university systems or governing boards with at least three campuses or 50,000 total students enrolled across the system in the most-recent academic year.

This analysis does not include systems, state boards, or administrative departments that oversee only technical or community colleges, nor does it include institutions in Puerto Rico. A limited number of system offices report relevant data to Ipeds.

For chief executives who led a campus and system jointly, the Ipeds data to which their pay is being compared reflect data corresponding only to the main campus. Across the history of this project, The Chronicle has asked institutions to submit the values of various types of reportable compensation earned by their chief executives, from both the public entity and any nonprofit organizations associated with the public entity. To capture a representative and diverse sample, The Chronicle’s methodology to arrive at a universe of colleges to survey has changed over the last decade.

To ascertain doctoral universities in those years, The Chronicle used the 2018 update of the Carnegie Basic Classification program.

As of publication time, the following institutions had not submitted compensation data associated with their current and former chief executives to The Chronicle. Open-records requests sent to some of these institutions also had not been fulfilled by publication time:

  • Auburn University
  • City University of New York system office
  • Clemson University
  • CUNY City College
  • CUNY Graduate School and University Center
  • Eastern Michigan University
  • Florida A&M University
  • Jackson State University
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Montclair State University
  • Morgan State University
  • Nebraska State College System
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Old Dominion University
  • Purdue University Global-Davenport
  • Rutgers University at Camden
  • Rutgers University at New Brunswick
  • Rutgers University at Newark
  • Rutgers University system
  • State University System of Florida, Board of Governors
  • SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  • Tennessee State University
  • Towson University
  • University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa
  • University of Arkansas system office
  • University of California at Berkeley
  • University of California at Davis
  • University of California at Irvine
  • University of California at Los Angeles
  • University of California at Merced
  • University of California at Riverside
  • University of California at San Diego
  • University of California at Santa Barbara
  • University of California at Santa Cruz
  • University of California system office
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Illinois system
  • University of Maryland-Eastern Shore
  • University of Michigan at Flint
  • University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • University of New Orleans
  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • University of North Carolina at Wilmington
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • University of Vermont
  • Western Kentucky University

Compensation components

Total pay: total compensation reflects the summed values of “base pay,” “bonus pay,” “other,” and “benefits.”

Base pay: The value of the total base compensation earned by the employee.

Bonus pay: The value of all bonuses and incentive compensation earned by the employee.

Deferred paid out: The value of this type of compensation, formerly called deferred compensation, is reported here when it becomes payable, is paid, or is employee-deferred in the relevant period.

Severance pay: Compensation made to the employee upon his or her resignation or firing, as determined by his or her contract, a separation agreement, or a legal settlement. This can include severance pay or other agreed-upon separation pay.

Remaining reportable: This catch-all field for reportable compensation not covered by the last four fields is available for the 2015-16 to the 2016-17 fiscal years and for the 2018 calendar year and the years that followed. Additional information can be ascertained by hovering on the “i” button.

Other pay: From the 2010-11 through the 2014-15 fiscal years, this value is the sum of the compensation figures reported as “deferred paid out” and “severance pay.” From the 2015-16 to the 2016-17 fiscal years and in the 2018 calendar year and the years that followed, “other pay” reflects the sum of those two fields and the addition of any values reported as “remaining reportable.”

Benefits: This reflects the value of nontaxable benefits, including health and medical benefits, life insurance, housing provided by an employer, personal legal and financial services, dependent care, adoption assistance, tuition assistance, and cafeteria plans. It is available for the 2015-16 to the 2016-17 fiscal years, and in the 2018 calendar year and the years that followed.


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