Thanks, Taxpayers: Public University Presidents Getting Even Richer

Robby Soave Reporter
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Public university president continued to be a lucrative profession last year as debt-plagued students and struggling taxpayers financed another five millionaires in 2013.

The number of top executives hauling in over a million dollars annually at American public universities now stands at nine, though a few of those people retired this year after collecting their wages, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The top earner, Six Million Dollar Man E. Gordon Gee, collected $6.1 million as president of Ohio State University in fiscal year 2013. Gee resigned his position after making several gaffes and insulting the Roman Catholic Church. He was quickly hired by West Virginia University and is now the president of that institution. (RELATED: University presidents rake in millions while students flounder)

The last name on the millionaire’s list, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, retired last year. Her final compensation package totaled $1,037,357. (RELATED: UMich gets $200 million donation to buy nicer stuff, debt-weary students shrug)

The compensation packages included base pay, bonus pay, severance pay and retirement pay.

University presidents — and head coaches of college football and basketball programs — are the top paid public servants in most of the 50 states.

It’s a vexing fact to some, given that the financial burden of college is hitting harder and harder for today’s students. The average student graduates $25,000 in debt, and can have a tough time finding a job in the current market. (RELATED: As college costs increase, alternatives arise)

But public universities haven’t done a very good job of controlling their costs. While teacher compensation and employment levels have largely stagnated, administrative pay is off the charts. The lucrative deals for the presidents is a striking example, wrote Nathan Harden, editor of The College Fix.

“These are public funds we’re talking about,” he wrote. “The compensation of college administrators ought to be in line with the public interest.”

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