Paying a Public College President Big Bucks Doesn’t Always Pay Off for Students

The highest paid public college presidents and how their schools stack up in terms of value.

As concerns over the cost of college continue to grow, so has interest in how the schools spend their money—including the often generous salaries of campus administrators.

For the 2013-2014 year, the median salary for public college presidents who served a full year was $428,250, up from $375,000 five years previously, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

But those base salaries are often just a portion of their total compensation, thanks to bonuses, deferred pay, and perks such as homes and cars. Last year, half of university presidents enjoyed free housing and more than 70% received some type of car allowance, according to the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.

The highest paid administrators don’t always work at the biggest, or even the wealthiest, universities. There also appears to be little relationship between the value a college provides to its students and the largesse it provides to its leaders. For example, of the 10 public colleges MONEY ranks best for value, only one (Texas A&M) is represented on the list of the 10 highest paid college presidents. The rest were further down in our rankings, in some cases much further.

Here’s a peek inside the pay envelopes of the best-paid public college presidents, from the Chronicle of Higher Education data, along with how their schools stacked up in MONEY’s latest Best Colleges rankings. The most recent salary figures are from 2013-14, so some of these individuals are no longer in the same role.

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  • 10. University of South Florida

    University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft
    Daniel Wallace—AP

    Judy L. Genshaft, president of University of South Florida

    Total compensation: $719,675

    Base salary: $719,675

    Money Best Colleges rank: 566

    Note: Genshaft is also president of the University of South Florida system, which includes two regional campuses.

  • 9. Rutgers University at New Brunswick

    Robert Barchi
    Frank Franklin II—AP

    Robert L. Barchi, president of Rutgers University

    Total compensation: $739,624

    Base salary: $649,624

    Money Best Colleges rank: 119

    Note: In addition to the main campus in New Brunswick, Barchi also oversees campuses in Camden and Newark.

  • 8. Virginia Tech

    Charles Steger
    Matt Gentry—AP

    Charles W. Steger, president of Virginia Tech

    Total compensation: $745,195

    Base salary: $466,191

    Money’s Best Colleges rank: 48

  • 7. University of Delaware

    Patrick Harker
    Saquan Stimpson—AP

    Patrick T. Harker, president of the University of Delaware

    Total compensation: $800,156

    Base salary: $682,502

    Money Best Colleges rank: 65

  • 6. University of Houston

    Renu Khator
    Pat Sullivan—AP

    Renu Khator, president of University of Houston

    Total compensation: $850,000

    Base salary: $700,000

    Money Best Colleges rank: 473

    Note: Khator is also chancellor of the University of Houston system, which has four universities.

  • 5. University of Illinois at Chicago

    Dr. Paula Allen-Meares
    M. Spencer Green—AP

    Paula Allen-Meares, former chancellor of University of Illinois at Chicago

    Total compensation: $872,458

    Base salary: $422,458

    Money Best Colleges rank: 154

  • 4. Washington State University

    Elson Floyd
    David Smith—AP

    Elson S. Floyd, former president of Washington State University (now deceased)

    Total compensation: $877,250

    Base salary: $725,000

    Money Best Colleges rank: 96

  • 3. Ohio State University

    Joseph Alutto
    Adam Cairns—AP

    Joseph A. Alutto, former interim president at Ohio State University

    Total compensation: $996,169

    Base salary: $634,572

    Money Best Colleges rank: 134

  • 2. Texas A&M University

    R. Bowen Loftin
    Aaron M. Sprecher—AP

    R. Bowen Loftin, former president of Texas A&M University

    Total compensation: $1,128,957

    Base salary: $155,525

    Money Best Colleges rank: 20

    Note: Loftin’s total compensation is for a partial year as president of Texas A&M. He left mid-year for position at a different university.

  • 1. Pennsylvania State University

    Rodney Erickson
    Abby Drey—AP

    Rodney A. Erickson, former president of Pennsylvania State University

    Total compensation: $1,494,603

    Base salary: $633,336

    Money Best Colleges rank: 157

    Note: The president of Penn State’s flagship campus also has some administrative responsibilities for the other 23 branch campuses that make up the university, though each campus has its own president or chancellor.

MONEY Careers & Workplace

The Surprising Reason Your Salary Isn’t Growing

Paid in peanuts
RedBarnStudio—Getty Images

A new compensation trend could be hurting workers.

Wage growth hasn’t been this slow since 1982. In the second quarter, raises and salaries ticked up a minuscule 0.2% percent, according to Labor Department data released Friday. For private-sector workers, in fact, wage growth hasn’t been this low in the entire 35 years the Labor Department has been tracking it.

The bottom line is that even as companies have been hiring more, they’ve been able to hold the line on pay.

The likely culprit, say experts, is the continued adoption of one-time bonuses given in lieu of raises. “The raise has gone the way of the gold watch,” Gary Burnison, CEO of executive recruitment and talent management company Korn Ferry, tells the Washington Post.

‘Variable Pay’ Hits Record

What has been a frustrating trend for workers first attracted widespread attention about a year ago, after a report by HR consulting firm Aon Hewitt found that a record amount — 13% — of employee payroll costs were going to what’s termed “variable pay,” a category that covers bonuses and related performance-based payments. (In 1988, when the company started tracking it, variable pay made up only about 4% of payroll costs.)

“Performance-related pay, of which bonuses are an example, will become more and more prevalent,” predicts Iwan Barankay, a management professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who has addressed the wage vs. bonus issue in the past.

Read next: How to Tell If Now Is a Good Time to Ask for a Raise

Companies like giving bonuses instead of raises because it requires less commitment on their part, and because they can tie payouts to company or departmental performance metrics, explained Aon Hewitt compensation, strategy and market development leader Ken Abosch in an article published by the Society for Human Resource Management.

“They feel like they need to be careful about adding to their fixed costs,” he says. “This is one of the main reasons variable pay programs are so attractive.” Incurring a one-time expense — one the company won’t have to pay again if certain performance targets aren’t met — is a better deal for them than raising wages across the board, then having to cut employees or pay if business slows down.

“The more compensation you can give in other forms, the more nimble you can be in a recession,” Linda Barrington, executive director of Cornell University’s Institute for Compensation Studies, tells the New York Times.

Workers Lose Out

But even when bonuses are paid out, performance-based pay can be a bum deal for workers. Your base salary is an important factor in calculating everything from how much interest you’ll pay on a loan to how much Social Security you’ll earn when you retire. For young adults, a lower starting salary can potentially put a drag on decades of future earnings.

A bonus-heavy pay structure also divides a workforce more sharply into winners and losers, Barankay notes. “Unfortunately, not all employees benefit from bonuses equally,” he says. “High performers can still command high fixed wages since — should an employer not offer them a raise — they can credibly threaten to get another job elsewhere.”

For everyone else, though, the picture looks a lot less rosy. “Low performers are less lucky as they [can] struggle to get a good alternative job offer and are stuck in a system where bonuses are hard to get,” he adds.

“The consequence is a situation where wage inequality will increase in the workplace,” Barankay says.

Read next: Here’s How Much The Nurse Next Door Makes

TIME Transportation

General Motors Says 100 People Have Now Died from Faulty Ignition Switches

Faulty Ignition Switch Repair At A General Motors Dealership
Jeff Kowalsky—Bloomberg/Getty Images Shop foreman John Chapman performs a service recall on a General Motors Co. (GM) 2005 Saturn Ion at Liberty Chevrolet in New Hudson, Michigan, U.S., on Friday, April 25, 2014.

The malfunctioning switches have prompted the recalls of millions of GM vehicles

The death toll from faulty ignition switches in General Motors’ vehicles officially reached 100 this week, putting a grim tally on the long-running saga of the company’s delayed recalls.

The automotive firm’s compensation fund said it had approved the 100th compensation claim resulting from the issue on Monday, the New York Times reported.

This number, according to the Times, is significantly higher than the 13 deaths that GM claimed were the only ones from malfunctioning ignitions on multiple models.

Several lawsuits against the company allege that the actual death toll far exceeds even the latest number, and accuse the company of downplaying the number of deaths in multiple congressional hearings.

“The success of the cover-up for over a decade leaves most of the victims unaccounted for,” Robert Hilliard, one of the lead lawyers, told the Times. “One hundred is not even the tip of the iceberg.”

Read more at the Times

TIME compensation

This Was the Highest-Paid Woman in the U.S. Last Year

Apple iPhone
Tony Avelar—AP Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of retail and online stores at Apple Inc., walks through the Apple Store during the launch and sale of the new iPhone 6 on Sept 19, 2014, in Palo Alto, Calif.

Apple's new head of retail earned big bucks in 2014

Angela Ahrendts, the Burberry CEO-turned-Apple retail chief, was the highest-paid woman in the U.S. last year.

She earned $82.4 million in 2014 after she took over the role of Apple’s vice president of retail and online stores, according to an analysis by Bloomberg. The pay figure includes a sign-on bonus and a grant for compensation she wasn’t able to bring along from Burberry. In addition to overseeing the Apple Stores, which are rumored to have a redesign in the works, Ahrendts has been instrumental in the rollout of the Apple Watch.

Trailing Ahrendts on Bloomberg’s list were Oracle Chief Financial Officer Safra Catz, earning $71.2 million, and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who earned $59.1 million.


CEOs Love Buybacks. But Should You?

apple sign
Toby Melville—Reuters

Like Apple, many American corporations favor stock buybacks over dividends. For investors things are little more complicated.

On Monday, Apple Inc. APPLE INC. AAPL 0.43% reported another knock-out quarterly profit and said it would return an eye-popping $200 billion to shareholders by March 2017 through a combination of dividends and share buybacks. Pundits have been debating whether that’s a smart strategy.

Apple shareholders—and other investors who can look forward to corporate goodies being announced this earnings season—may have a more immediate question: What’s better, getting a dividend check or letting management spend the money to snap up shares?

By earmarking $140 billion of the $200 billion for repurchasing shares, Apple appears to favor buybacks. That’s a stance popular across corporate America. Last year, companies in the S&P 500 spent $550 billion on buybacks vs. $350 billion on dividends. But it’s not necessarily clear buybacks are always the best option.

Keep in mind that, in an ideal situation, companies wouldn’t buy back stock or pay dividends. Instead, they’d re-invest profits to grow their businesses and generate even more profits in the future. But even the most promising companies can grow only so much for so long before they run out of highly compelling ideas for further investment—at which point they have an obligation to start paying out profits to shareholders, who can invest the money as they see fit. And it appears that Apple, having amassed nearly $200 billion in cash, is no longer confident it can profitably invest all that money.

Companies like Apple looking to hand cash back to investors have two basic routes. They can simply write a check to existing shareholders in the form of a dividend. Or they can use the money to buy out some of those shareholders—a so-called buyback—which essentially leaves each of the remaining owners with a bigger slice of the company and its profits.

In theory all companies should eventually aim to pay out profits directly. After all, the prospect of future dividends is the reason a stock has value in the first place. But in the meantime, buybacks can benefit investors by boosting the stock price—since every remaining share represents a bigger claim on the same pool of corporate assets.

So which route is better?

Economic theory suggests they should be roughly equivalent. But the tax code isn’t always based on economic theory—and it turns out the IRS gives buybacks a big advantage. When a company hands you a dividend check, you owe taxes on that income in the current tax year even if you plan to re-invest the dividend and hold the stock for years. By contrast, when a company buys back shares and the share price goes up as a result, you owe no taxes until you actually sell the stock, which could be years in the future.

But taxes alone don’t settle the question—and buybacks aren’t necessarily all they’re cracked up to be.

For one thing, many smart investors, including Warren Buffett, promote buybacks when management believes shares are undervalued. The problem is that most managers turn out to be just as bad as the rest of us at gauging whether the market has placed the right value on their shares. Case in point: Many companies went on buy-back sprees in the early part of the last decade, only to look like they’d squandered shareholders’ money when the 2008 financial crisis hit.

Another knock against buybacks: They give management too much discretion. Like Apple, many companies grab headlines by announcing the total amount they’ll use to buy back shares over a period of years. That gives managers the flexibility to buy the shares when prices look advantageous. A dividend, by contrast, is a less splashy quarterly obligation for a company’s managers, who know that the stock market doesn’t react well to dividend cuts. And just because management chafes at such restrictions, doesn’t mean you should. Especially in an era of push-over boards, many investors see a regular dividend as one of the few reliable ways to hold managers to account.

Finally, critics of buybacks argue that they ultimately benefit managers more than shareholders. The reason? Executive compensation is typically tied to share price, an effort to align the interests of management with those of shareholders. But it doesn’t always work because an executive can use buybacks to hit short-term stock price goals at the expense of his company’s long-term interests—by skimping, for example, on expensive but necessary research and development.

That’s probably not an issue for Apple, considering its $200 billion bank account. But research suggests it may be for the broader market.

The upshot: It’s easy to see why managements prefer buybacks. But investors—especially those with the bulk of their savings in a 401(k) or IRA, where taxes aren’t an issue—may be better off with an old-fashioned dividend.




TIME animals

Chinese Man Gets Attacked by a Wild Panda, Sues Government for $80,000

Panda resting in a tree
Jay Schipper—Flickr RF/Getty Images

It must have been sheer pandamonium

A man in China has been awarded more than $80,000 in compensation from the government after a wild panda bit him on the leg, his lawyer said Monday.

Local officials had tried to capture the panda after it wandered into Liziba village in China’s northwest Gansu province, but ended up chasing it onto Guan Quanzi’s land, reports Agence France-Presse.

“I saw a panda jump out in front of me, its body completely covered in mud,” he told local paper the Lanzhou Evening News.

Guan endured seven hours of surgery after the incident, which happened in March last year. The panda managed to escape.

Guan’s son sued local forestry officials who now have agreed to pay $83,000, which will cover the man’s ongoing medical bills.

Though pandas are known for being pretty easygoing bamboo eaters, they are part of the bear family and can deliver a fierce bite. They’ve also been known to attack humans.


TIME Aviation

MH 370: Lawyers Say Faulty Beacon Battery May Prove Key to Compensation

The shadow of a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion maritime search aircraft can be seen on low-level clouds as it flies over the southern Indian Ocean looking for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
Rob Griffith—Reuters The shadow of a Royal New Zealand Air Force's P3 Orion maritime search aircraft can be seen on low-level clouds as it flies over the southern Indian Ocean looking for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370 on March 31, 2014

Report suggests engineering failure responsible for expired beacon battery on plane

The revelation that a beacon battery, which could have served as an underwater locator for tracking missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, had long expired may heavily influence any potential compensation claim, according to lawyers representing passengers’ families.

A report Sunday on the fate of the Boeing 777-200, which vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing March 8 last year, revealed the beacon battery, designed to emit pulses in the event of a crash at sea, had expired in December 2012 and was not replaced, Reuters reports.

Kreindler & Kreindler LP, a U.S. law firm representing nearly 20 families against the beleaguered carrier, believes that the expired battery could prove “potentially very significant” in compensation negotiations with relatives of the 227 passengers and 12 crew.

The report, published by Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation to mark the one-year anniversary of the tragedy, suggests that the engineering department of Malaysia Airlines could be held responsible for failing to correctly update a computer system.

In an email to Reuters, Kreindler & Kreindler LP’s aviation attorney Justin Green said, “This airline … even more clearly now may be responsible for the unsuccessful search for this plane.”


MONEY salary

500,000 Walmart Workers Are Getting a Raise. Here’s How You Can Get One, Too

Walmart raise minimum wage $1.75
Gunnar Rathbun—Invision for Walmart

These 5 moves can help you make sure you get what you deserve.

Two corporate giants have made headlines recently for perking up their workers’ paychecks.

Last month, health insurance provider Aetna announced it would be raising the lowest wage it pays to $16 an hour, effectively giving raises to 5,700 of the company’s workers. On Thursday, Walmart followed Aetna’s lead, revealing it would be giving 500,000 associates a salary bump of at least $1.75 above the federal minimum wage.

While across-the-board wage increases such as these are unusual, other corporations are also expected to be more generous with pay this year. Among mid- and large-sized employers, the average increase in base pay is expected to be 3.0% in 2015, up from 2.9% in 2014 and 2.8% in 2013, according to HR consulting firm Mercer.

You can help your chances of boosting your pay with these five tips:

1. Ask at the Right Time

Choosing the optimal time to approach your boss about a raise will significantly increase your chances of success. Stay on top of your own industry’s salary trends and consider whether your company and division are doing well enough to afford what you’re asking for. It’s also a good idea to ask for a raise a few months before performance reviews so that salaries aren’t already set.

Read more: How to Tell if Now Is a Good Time to Ask for a Raise

2. Know What Others are Getting

Before you ask for a raise, you’re going to need to know what kind of raise is reasonable. Check sites like and to get an idea of the industry standard for your position, then consult your colleagues to see what the story is internally. For women, that means making sure to check with your male mentors as well. As MONEY’s Margaret Magnarelli writes, female employees tend to be underpaid relative to their male counterparts, and often remain unfairly compensated because they compare salaries with female colleagues who are also underpaid. Gathering a broad cross section of salary data can help break through the ceiling.

Read more: The Foolproof Way to Make Sure You Land a Big Raise This Year

3. Be Able to Prove You’re Better than Average

The 3% average bump that Mercer projects isn’t bad, but being better than the norm can be very lucrative. In 2014, Mercer said the highest-performing employees received a 4.8% raise—more than 2 percentage points higher than the average for that year. How do you show you’re the best of the best? Gather a portfolio of past endorsements and ask satisfied clients to write testimonials. Then do your best to quantify your accomplishments so that your boss has the hard numbers as well.

Read more: 5 Ways to Get a Big Raise Now

4. Identify Your Added Value

Think about what you do that no one else at the office can do—either where you’ve particularly excelled or what highly marketable skill you bring to the table—and then frame your ask around this added value. Jim Hopkinson of suggests framing your requests as follows: “Not only do I have [all the standard requirements that everyone else has] + but I also possess [the following unique traits that make me worth more money].”

Read more: The Secret Formula that Will Set You Apart in a Salary Negotiation

5. Just Ask!

As Wayne Gretzky said, you miss you 100% of the shots you don’t take. According to CareerBuilder, 56% of workers have never asked for a raise, which is a shame because 44% of those who did ask got the amount they asked for, and 31% still got some kind of salary boost. It might seem daunting to ask for more money with the economy still in recovery mode, but job openings are the highest they’ve been in a decade, almost three-quarters of employers say they’re worried about losing talented workers, and raises are gradually getting larger. Being assertive can be scary, but don’t let fear stand in the way of a bigger salary.

Read more: New Study Reveals the Odds You’ll Actually Get the Raise You Ask For

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TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 26

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. We spent more than $170 billion on the wars they fought for us. Can we spend $5 billion to give veterans a guaranteed income?

By Gar Alperovitz in Al Jazeera America

2. A ‘teaching hospital’ model could work for journalism education by making students work collectively to produce professional results.

By Adam Ragusea at Neiman Lab

3. Humans are born with an intimate understanding of pitch, rhythm, and tone. We’re all musical geniuses.

By Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis in Aeon

4. WarkaWater Towers — which produce up to 25 gallons of water out of fog and dew every day — could change lives in drought-stricken countries.

By Liz Stinson in Wired

5. Private sector investment savvy and funds can help us tackle poverty’s toughest challenges. It’s time for impact investing.

By Anne Mosle in The Hill

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email

MONEY salary negotiation

The 10 Commandments of Salary Negotiation

The Ten Commandments of Salary Negotiation graphic treatment

Thou shalt be paid more! Tech recruiter Elizabeth Morgan takes to the mount to offer some wisdom on squeezing money from a stone.

This is the first in a series of six posts on salary negotiation published in partnership with

1. Never accept the first salary offer.

2. Remember that you can negotiate more than just salary. A sign-on bonus and stock options are also major components of your offer that can be negotiated.

3. Work with your recruiter. Recruiters are your friends. But they are friends who have a budget. Ideally, they want you to accept the offer they are extending to you. Provide concrete data (see #10) to support why you are asking for a different compensation package.

4. Role-play the salary-negotiation conversation. Practice, practice, practice.

5. Utilize time as your golden trump card. Let’s say you found your dream job, but still aren’t happy with the salary that is being offered to you. It’s okay to put a timer on the offer after negotiations. Suggest a short turnaround time (i.e. “I will accept this offer by 5pm today if you can deliver the offer I am asking for”) to your recruiter to provide you with the salary criteria you requested.

6. Don’t be the first to disclose a number. Always let the recruiter or hiring manager be the first to share salary ranges or an offer post interviews.

7. Keep emotion out of the process. Remember: Business is business, and you can’t count on karma or other magical thinking. Sorry.

8. Always prepare a counter offer.

9. Remember that the negotiation process revolves around two factors: what you are worth and what they are willing to pay for you.

10. Always research your value and the company prior to interviewing for a job. Data is key to effective salary negotiating. is a great resource to leverage when doing research to determine your professional worth and how much you should be getting paid.

Elizabeth Morgan has over 15 years of technical recruiting experience, with companies that include Microsoft, Google, Amazon and LinkedIn. Currently, she is building LinkedIn’s Engineering Leadership team and helping launch LinkedIn’s Women in Tech program.

More on salary negotiation from


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