Productivity and industry standards dictate college presidents earnings
- College presidents earn an average salary of $431,000, a number which calls into question the impact of administrative salary in college affordability dialog, given it is higher than the annual salary for the president of the United States.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education also measures executive salary earnings on per million spent, and per student tuition, which adds varying perspectives to earnings at a variety of colleges based upon size and mission.
- Some board members, like the University of Houston Chairman Tillman Fertitta, say that the presidential compensation is in line with the productivity and growth of the institution. UH President Renu Khator earns $1.3 million annually.
Recruiting a college president is not unlike recruiting a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, as the individual has responsibility for millions in spending, thousands of employees, and execution in athletics, research, outreach and metrics in many other areas.
As campuses confront stark realities in declining appropriations and enrollment, attracting the right president can mean the difference between increasing revenue on a consistent basis, or financing executive searches every 3-5 years and losing credibility in the eyes of stakeholders. Its this environment which makes it a buyer’s market in higher education leadership, where some of the best leaders always have the option of returning to private sector employment should the academy fail to retain them.