Expect Easter's successor to earn more

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.

Presidential pay

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



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ialdabaoth wrote on August 21, 2014 at 8:08 am

Students can expect constant tuition hikes to make sure the University rapidly cycles through the very best, top-quality presidents in comparison to other overpaid bureaucrats in college administrations around the country.

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 21, 2014 at 9:08 am

Based on the the past U of I presidents, good work does not equate to huge salaries.  It amounts to another waste of public money.  At some point in time; the State of Illinois will have to divorce itself from the U of I, and let the university become the private school that it is in reality.  The buildings can be leased, or granted to the university with their maintenance being the university's responsibility.  Let the elite teach the wealthy of the world without the citizens of the state being left to foot the bills.

Champaign Guest wrote on August 21, 2014 at 10:08 am

What do the columns in the table represent? (I think I know, but they should be clearly labeled.)

Mike Howie wrote on August 21, 2014 at 10:08 am
Profile Picture

Dang it, I forgot the column headings. Thanks for pointing it out, though I'm sorry you had to. I've restored them now.

Mike Howie

online editor

Champaign Guest wrote on August 21, 2014 at 11:08 am


Bulldogmojo wrote on August 21, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Meanwhile Phyllis Wises labor negotiators are trying to dismantle pay step structures that protect equal pay for women and minorities. 

Lostinspace wrote on August 21, 2014 at 1:08 pm

The new president will be worth twice the salary if he or she pays attention to undergraduate education, deals with underpaid TAs, and goes after the bloated administration, whose main job seems to be to add needless complications to simple procedures.

787 wrote on August 21, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Mr. Howie-

President Easter makes less money than his predecessor.  A fairly significant amount less, if I recall correctly.

For the sake of argument, what did Michael Hogan make?  Wikipedia claims that it was $620,000 at one point.  And did that $620,000 figure include any bonuses?

If we assume that it was $620,000, with the same $90,000 bonus... then that would have put Hogan closer to the middle of the chart.