REPORT: Public university presidents' salaries, tuition hikes since Great Recession

'Campus Reform' analyzed presidential salary data from a 'Chronicle of Higher Education,' comparing compensation packages to yearly in-state tuition costs.

The highest-compensated presidents have salaries that equal hundreds of students' annual tuition dollars.

Some public university presidents have earned salaries equivalent to hundreds of students’ annual tuition rates as the cost of college increased significantly since the Great Recession. 

In March, the Chronicle of Higher Education released data on nearly 300 university presidents’ compensation packages between 2010 and 2019. A Campus Reform analysis of the data reveals that it takes hundreds of students’ tuition bills to pay the administrators.

According to CNBC, the cost to attend public universities increased by 29.8% from 2008-2018.

For instance, Georgia State University President Mark Becker earns $2,806,517 per year in base salary and other bonuses. Since each in-state student pays $11,076 in tuition per year, Becker is compensated with 253 students’ tuition bills.

[RELATED: Oregon Dept of Education raided student absentee program funding to pay Nikole Hannah-Jones $50,000]

The trend continues for University of Florida President Kent Fuchs ($1,147,064), Auburn University President Steven Leath ($1,836,226), University of Nebraska-Omaha Provost Jeffrey Gold ($1,174,521), and former University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft ($876,446). The four administrators make the equivalent of 180, 156, 147, and 137 students’ annual tuition payments.

The other 15 of the top 20 highest-paid presidents are as follows, alphabetically by institution: 

1. Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow ($1,150,361) — 101 tuition payments

2. Augusta University President Brooks Keel ($906,732) — 103 tuition payments

3. Florida State University President John Thrasher ($767,014) — 118 tuition payments

4. Former East Carolina University Chancellor Cecil Staton ($884,277) — 122 tuition payments

5. Former Ohio State University President Michael Drake ($1,422,154) — 123 tuition payments

6. Former Portland State University President Rahmat Shoureshi ($1,095,393) — 108 tuition payments

7. Former Texas A&M University President Michael Young ($1,610,977) — 129 tuition payments

8. Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum ($822,523) — 91 tuition payments

9. North Carolina State University Chancellor Randolph Woodson ($874,712) — 96 tuition payments

10. Purdue University President Mitchell Daniels ($962,412) — 96 tuition payments

11. University at Buffalo President Satish Tripathi ($900,192) — 84 tuition payments

12. University of Alabama-Birmingham President Raymond Watts ($949,840) — 89 tuition payments

13. University of Houston Chancellor Renu Khator ($1,164,064) — 101 tuition payments

14. University of Texas-Austin President Gregory Fenves ($1,090,223) — 98 tuition payments

15. West Virginia University President Gordon Lee ($903,257) — 101 tuition payments

Campus Reform has frequently reported on public colleges’ tendency to offer high pay rates for administrators. 

In 2017, Campus Reform revealed that American universities paid diversity czars an average salary of $175,000. 

[RELATED: Rutgers pays new ‘Equity’ VP $300,000, despite projected $200 million COVID losses]

The administrator who runs Rutgers University’s “Division of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement” earns $300,000 per year — despite the school’s COVID-incuded budget shortfalls.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft