University presidents’ pay on rise

The president of the University of New Hampshire took home $381,870 last year in salary and benefits, which fell below the national average for overall compensation of public higher education institutions.

Mark Huddleston, who was hired in July 2007, was one of 184 presidents of public research universities whose overall compensation was included in a study released by the Chronicle of Higher Education on Monday.

The survey found that at the public university level, executive compensation, median pay and benefits rose 7.6 percent in 2007-08, to an average of $427,400.

By comparison, compensation stayed relatively flat at private research universities but increased about 6 percent at private master’s and bachelor’s institutions, according to the study.

The results indicate that presidents of public institutions are gaining ground on their private counterparts when it comes to pay.

Huddleston’s compensation package included use of a house and car, $30,000 in deferred compensation and $34,870 in retirement pay. He is the highest paid public employee in the state.

Huddleston’s overall compensation last year was about $134,000 more than the last permanent UNH president, according to the study, but it still fell below the national average for public research universities.

The study comes at a time when student debt and tuition are rising faster than inflation. But as the study points out, many of the pay increases were set before the worst of the nation’s economic crisis hit.

James Wright, president of Dartmouth College, was the state’s highest paid private college president. He had a total compensation package of $569,761 in 2006-07, the most recent data available for private institutions.

The study compiled a list of the highest paid presidents across the country. With an overall compensation of $2.8 million, David Sargent, president of Suffolk University in Boston, topped the list.

E. Gordon Gee, president of Ohio State University, earned $1,346,225 last year, making him the highest paid president of a public research university, according to the study.

Stephen Reno, chancellor of the University System of New Hampshire, earned $331,412 last year, which included: $7,446 for a car, $8,000 for a house, $37,900 in deferred payments and $27,556 in retirement pay.

Presidents of the state’s community colleges were not included in the study. Richard Gustafson, president of the state’s community college system, earned a total of $124,131 this year.

The salaries for the presidents of Keene State College and Plymouth State University, though not included in the study, were used as an example in a story focusing on how presidents of regional public institutions earn less than their counterparts at public research universities.

According to the study, Helen Giles-Gee, president of Keene State, earned $233,748 last year, and Sara Jane Steen, president of Plymouth State, earned $221,148.

Despite raises of $36,000 and $44,000 respectively, Giles-Gee and Steene fell well short of Huddleston’s overall compensation package.

In an interview for the story, Reno told the Chronicle of Higher Education that the disparities in the responsibilities that come with each position are reflected in the differences in pay.

“But we don’t want it to be an inappropriately large one,” said Reno, who added that the system is doing the best it can to offer competitive salaries.

UNH has an enrollment of 15,976, more than double the enrollment of Plymouth State (6,574) and nearly triple the enrollment of Keene State (5,443).

In May, Huddleston announced a series of initiatives to address the university’s expected deficit for the next fiscal year. Among the strategies were to institute a hiring freeze and a review of how to reduce administrative costs.

At Rivier College in Nashua, President William Farrell, had a total compensation package of $229,821 in 2006-07.

Some New Hampshire colleges and universities, such as Daniel Webster College in Nashua, were not included in the study because they did not meet the criteria.

Salaries for private institutions are taken from Internal Revenue Service filings, which requires nonprofit organizations, including colleges, to list salaries and benefits for top officials.

Colleges that claim religious exemption are not required to report salaries.

University President Salary and Compensation
Public schools (2007-08 data)

UNH Mark W. Huddleston
Use of car, use of house, $30,000 deferred, $34,870 retirement
University System Stephen J. Reno
$7,446 car, $8,000 house of N.H. $37,900 deferred, $27,556 retirement
Keene State College Helen F. Giles-Gee
Plymouth State University Sara Jayne Steen
Community Technical College system Richard Gustafson
$4,800 car
Private schools (2006-07 data)
Dartmouth College James Wright $470,000
Franklin Pierce University George Hagerty $283,987
$27,430 (plus expense $57,184)
Southern NH University Paul LeBlanc $329,603
Rivier College William Farrell $200,000

Note: Daniel Webster, Thomas More and Colby-Sawyer colleges were not included in the survey, apparently because they are too small.
Source: Chronicle for Higher Education, “Executive Compensation”