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Fired College Pres. Earned Highest Salary Among Peers Nationwide in 2012

As student debt and tuition costs soar, so do public college presidents’ salaries – by the millions.

That’s the long and short of a series of articles published Sunday that highlighted The Chronicle of Higher Education’s survey of public college presidents’ salaries in 2012.

“Public U. Presidents Make Bank,” screamed the Daily Beast.

The Baltimore Sun did a little math on the list, noting “four presidents at public research universities made a collective $9.2 million in fiscal year 2012.”

What’s worse – the college president who earned the most last year got his loot – because he was fired.

“While former president of Penn State University, Graham Spanier, left the university during the worst scandal it has seen during his 16 year tenure, he was well compensated as the highest-paid public university president last year,” ABC News reported. “Spanier received total compensation of $2.9 million in the 2011-12 school year, including $1.2 million in severance pay and $1.2 million in deferred compensation paid during that year. Spanier was fired as president in November 2011 for his handling of the child sex-abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.”

In other reports, The Detroit News noted that “two public university presidents in Michigan rank among the highest-paid in the nation, with one in the top 10.” One earned $918,783. The other – $672,000.

The median total compensation for public college presidents, by the way, is $441,392 for 2012,  according to The Chronicle.

“Jay Gogue, Auburn University in Alabama, was the second-highest paid president in the nation, earning a $2.5 million package,” the Detroit News reported. “E. Gordon Gee, president of Ohio State University, earned a $1.89 million package.”

Many articles on the subject were quick to note that these salaries come as the so-called higher education bubble is bigger than ever, with tuition costs that continue to soar, ballooning student debt, and many recent college grads who remain unemployed or underemployed.

“Salaries of presidents of U.S. public universities rose almost 5 percent in the last fiscal year, even as tuition rose and student debt soared, with the median pay package topping $400,000, according to a report released on Sunday,” Reuters reported.

In comparison, Reuters noted, “The Chronicle surveyed compensation at private colleges in 2010, and found that 36 private college presidents earned more than $1 million. The median pay of the 494 presidents surveyed was $397,860.”

The Top Ten public college presidents’ salaries for 2012 is as follows, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Graham Spanier, Penn State University, $2,906,721.

Jay Gogue, Auburn University, $2,542,865

E. Gordon Gee, Ohio State University, $1,899,420

Alan Merten, George Mason University, $1,869,369

Jo Ann Gora, Ball State University, $984,647

Mary Sue Coleman, University of Michigan system, $918,783

Charles Steger, Virginia Tech, $857,749

Mark Yudof, University of California system, $847,149

Bernard Machen, University of Florida, $834,562

Francisco Cigarroa, University of Texas system, $815,833

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