5 Connecticut university presidents among highest paid in the nation

Yale University campus (file).


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A list on an education website ranks college and university presidents by what they make, and some of those salaries are pretty impressive.

Anyone paying for a kid in college, or still paying off their own education, might look at this list and get a little mad about the salaries. But don’t says one business school professor. In fact don’t think of the universities as schools at all. Think of them as corporations.

The website, startclass.com, put together a list of the highest paid university presidents. There are five Connecticut entries on the list.

At 84, Michael Roth of Wesleyan makes $753,393. Yale switched presidents during the time the list was compiled so you’ve got the new president, Peter Salovey at 77, with $771,987, and the old president Richard Levin at 24, with $1.1 million both of those are only partial-year salary. Leo Higdon of Connecticut College is number 22 with $1.15 million, and John Lahey of Quinnipiac is number 18 with $1.25 million.

Before you get too upset with the salaries, News 8 spoke to a business school professor who says you can’t think of a university president as if he were the principal of a really big high school. Universities have so many different functions, a successful athletic department, world class faculty, and you’re running a 24-hour hotel for thousands of kids. “They have to please parents, kids, faculty, it’s a mish-mash of people from everywhere, and that creates competition,” said Glenn McGee, Management Professor at University of New Haven’s School of Business.

McGee says you have to think of the school as a corporation, and the president as CEO, and you know what CEO pay is like these days. Plus, these days university presidents are under tremendous pressure to bring in students. “In the United States, possibly the best nation in the world for higher education, fewer and fewer kids are being born, and so our growth rate is decreasing and that means university presidents have to supply bodies,” said McGee.

A president who can do that is in demand, so he can demand a good salary. If you were wondering, at the top of the list is the president of The Ohio State University. He makes $5 million, but even he isn’t the highest paid employee of Ohio State. Urban Meyer, the football coach, makes $5.8 million.

At UConn for instance, the president didn’t make the list, but the basketball and football coaches all have seven-figure salaries.

At Yale, it’s not a coach who makes the most money, it’s the chief investment officer. The guy who oversees the billion of dollars in the school’s endowment has made bonuses that boosted his income up over $5 million.

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