Ousted Penn State President Tops The List Of Highest Paid College Presidents

Photo: John TecceScandal does a paycheck good.

Although he was ousted from office as Pennsylvania State University President, Graham Spanier still topped the list of highest paid college presidents. 

Spanier racked up $2.9 million in total compensation  for the 2011-12 fiscal year, according to a report by the Chronicle of Higher Education.  

He was fired as president of Pennsylvania State University in November 2011 for allegedly mishandling a child-sex-abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Looking a bit deeper into Spanier’s paycheck, we found he actually took a 46% pay cut to his base salary, which fell from $660,000 to $350,000. The bulk of his salary came from a $1.2 million severance package after his firing and more than $1.2 million Spanier cashed out of his retirement plan.

That’s not exactly the same thing as a $2.9 million paycheck.

Looking at base salaries alone, the highest paid president is actually Ohio State’s E. Gordon Gee, who took in more than $830,000. 

Still, the Chronicle report shows one trend for certain: It was a good year to be on top of the college totem pole. The median total compensation for public university presidents, which includes bonuses and retirement compensation, jumped 4.7% to more than $441,000 between 2011 and 2012. The median base salary increased 2%. 

Here’s the full roster of the top 10 highest paid public university presidents: 

1. Graham B. Spanier*, Pennsylvania State University at University Park (Pennsylvania), $2,906,271

2. Jay Gogue, Auburn University (Alabama), $2,542,865

3. E. Gordon Gee, Ohio State University-Main Campus (Ohio), $1,899,420

4. Alan G. Merten*, George Mason University (Virginia), $1,869,369

5. Jo Ann M. Gora, Ball State University (Indiana), $984,647

6. Mary Sue Coleman, University of Michigan system (Michigan), $918,783

7. Charles W. Steger, Virginia Tech (Virginia), $857,749

8. Mark G. Yudof, University of California system (California), $847,149

9. Bernard J. Machen, University of Florida (Florida), $834,562

10. Francisco G. Cigarroa, University of Texas system (Texas), $815,833

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