Expect Easter's successor to earn more
The 10 highest-paid public university presidents in the country receive an average of $970,000 in total compensation, almost double the amount paid at the University of Illinois.
Among Big Ten schools, the average is $780,000.
It's big money, and a big consideration as the UI searches for a new president to replace Robert Easter, who plans to retire next summer. He currently earns $552,375.
The next UI president will likely earn more than that, though the UI Board of Trustees will make that decision, said UI Professor Doug Beck, co-chairman of the university's presidential search committee.
"Compensation is always a factor. Anyone that would tell you it's not is misleading," said Laurie Wilder of Parker Executive Search, the consultant working with the presidential search committee.
"We would strongly encourage you ... to look at what those parameters are," she said. The UI is considered one of the top public research universities in the country, and people expect compensation to be in line with that, she said.
Wilder presented the most recent salary figures available for top public university presidents and Big Ten presidents at the search committee's meeting on Wednesday.
Easter's total compensation places him 10th among the 14 Big Ten schools, and his base salary of $462,375 ranks 11th.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education's most recent survey of public university presidential pay, from 2012-13, Easter's total compensation ranked 95th out of 225 institutions.
The top public university president, Renu Khator of the University of Houston, earned a total of $1.25 million in 2013, according to information supplied by Parker. Several Big Ten institutions made that top 10 public list, including Penn State, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan and Minnesota.
Wilder said compensation has been on the rise at public research universities and private universities across the country, as the complexities and expectations of the job continue to grow.
Presidents are compensated in a variety of ways besides their base salaries. Many schools have moved to bonuses, usually awarded by governing boards that judge a president's performance based on academics, fundraising skills and other metrics. The amounts vary greatly from school to school, Wilder said.
Also common: deferred compensation, a tool to keep presidents on board as the average presidential tenure continues to decline, she said. Presidents can also receive allowances for housing, automobiles and fundraising expenses, as well as club memberships.
Besides his base salary, Easter received a one-time $90,000 performance bonus last year. Trustees said he earned it by achieving goals set by the board, keeping costs down and restoring faculty trust. Easter is eligible for a bonus annually as part of a performance-based incentive program that replaced retention bonuses.
The search committee met briefly in public Wednesday to review the salary numbers, then adjourned into closed session to discuss candidates for the president's job.
"We continue to add new names to our overall list," Beck said.
The panel has concluded its discussions with leaders of the UI's three campuses and will continue to seek advice from higher education officials across the country, he said.
The committee is expected to wrap up its work by mid-fall and make a recommendation to trustees, who hope to choose Easter's successor at their Nov. 14 board meeting.
Compensation packages for presidents of Big Ten members (Note: Most recently available figures)
|President, institution||Base||Bonus||Deferred||Total compensation|
|Eric J. Barron, Penn State||$800,000||$400,000||$0||$1,200,000|
|Morton Schapiro, Northwestern||$785,170||$60,000||$274,500||$1,119,670|
|Sally K. Mason, Iowa||$493,272||$0||$620,933||$1,114,205|
|Michael McRobbie, Indiana||$544,848||$79,456||$416,339||$1,040,643|
|Michael V. Drake, Ohio State||$800,000||$0||$200,000||$1,000,000|
|Mark Schlissel, Michigan||$750,000||$100,000||$20,000||$870,000|
|Eric W. Kaler, Minnesota||$625,250||$0||$159,450||$784,700|
|Robert Barchi, Rutgers||$650,000||$90,000||$0||$740,000|
|Lou Anna K. Simon, Michigan State||$520,000||$100,000||$0||$620,000|
|Robert Easter, Illinois||$462,375||$90,000||$0||$552,375|
|Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., Purdue||$420,000||$126,000||$0||$546,000|
|Rebecca Blank, Wisconsin||$495,000||$0||$0||$495,000|
|Wallace D. Loh, Maryland||$459,000||$0||$0||$459,000|
|Harvey Perlman, Nebraska||$341,053||$0||$39,221||$380,274|