America’s Seven Most GROSSLY OVERPAID College Presidents EVER

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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If you are out of job and looking to start a new prosperous career, look no further than becoming a college president. The benefits are good. You certainly won’t be scrounging around for health insurance. The perks are fabulous. And the pay is just an embarrassment of riches.

Youtube screenshot/Eric TomlinsonFormer Ohio State University and current West Virginia University President, E. Gordon Gee, got paid $6,057,615 in 2013 by The Ohio State University. That made Gordon Gee the highest paid college president in the United States. Gee’s tenure at Ohio State was certainly not without controversy, though. He got in trouble for anti-Catholic comments. Regarding Notre Dame maybe, possibly joining the Big 10, Gee said, “I negotiated with them during my first term and the fathers are holy on Sunday and they’re holy hell on the rest of the week. You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or Friday.”

Getty Images/Peter ThompsonUniversity of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer, earned $1,113 for every million the university spent in 2011. His total salary that year was almost $3.4 million. The median pay of private universities that year was $410,523. In 2012 the average graduate of University of Chicago had $22,663 worth of debt. Still, the school paid Zimmer more than some CEOs of huge private companies make.

Youtube screenshot/powerofpittsburghChatham University is a small woman’s college with a little over 2,000 students, but President Esther L. Barazzone is changing that. The university is going to start accepting male students in 2015, due in part to financial woes. The university has a modest budget of $48.3 million, and has had trouble running on it. Why mention all this? Because, in 2011, Barazzone managed to be one of the highest paid college presidents in the nation. That year, she raked in all of $1.8 million. That means she made $37,545 for every million the university spent.

Youtube screenshot/UofNorthDakotaOne of the highest paid public university presidents in 2013 headed the state university system in some highly populated state, right? Wrong! He was the president of the North Dakota University System. Hamid Shirvani was there for less than a year before getting “released” and receiving $1.3 million. Shirvani got bought out of the last two years of his contract, after his brief, unpopular tenure. During that time, the North Dakota Student Association Senate held a vote of no confidence for him. This wasn’t the first time a vote of no confidence occurred for Shirvani, either. When he was a college president at California State University-Stanislaus, a faculty vote showed 90 percent of the faculty members had no confidence in him. And even before that, in May of 1990, Shirvani resigned as the dean of the University of Colorado, Denver School of Architecture and Planning. During his tenure there, almost half of the program’s faculty left.


Youtube screenshot/MaristThe third highest paid college president of a private university in 2011 was Dennis J. Murray, president of Marist College. Of course, right? That makes so much sense. Marist College is located in Poughkeepsie. It’s home to some 6,000 students. It’s famous for exactly nothing. Yet Murray made nearly $2.7 million in 2011 — substantially more than any Ivy League school president made. For a reference point, Harvard’s president, Drew Faust, is in charge a budget almost 30 times the size of Marist’s budget.

Youtube screenshot/SpaceCoastDailyAnthony J. Catanese got paid $1.8 million dollars in 2011 as president of the Florida Institute of Technology, which made him the seventh highest-paid college president of a private institution that year. This isn’t the first time Catanese has gotten over the top compensation from a university. In 2002 as a departing gift from America’s worst university, Florida Atlantic, he received a red corvette. The gift came from the FAU Foundation. Catanese later had to return some money he also received, apparently because of fraud committed by someone at the foundation. But he kept the car.

Youtube screendaily/mndailyAVThe increasing pay of college presidents has increased student debt, and the hiring of adjunct professors. This is evident at the University of Minnesota. Between 2010 and 2012, University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler made $2.1 million. The average student debt of Minnesota graduates in summer 2012 was $29,702. Not that it mattered to Kaler, though. Hiring of adjunct and contingent faculty increased 105 percent from 2005 to  2011.

(photo credits: Gordon Gee Youtube screenshot/Eric Tomlinson; Robert Zimmer Getty Images/Peter Thompson; Esther Barazzone Youtube screenshot/powerofpittsburgh;Hamid Shirvani Youtube screenshot/UofNorthDakota; Dennis Murray Youtube screenshot/Marist; Anthony Catanese Youtube screenshot/SpaceCoastDaily; Erick Kaler Youtube screendaily/mndailyAV)