Record Number of College Presidents Earning Seven-Figure Salaries

Oct 20, 2021


Many colleges and universities have made the decision to moderate or freeze salary increases among their staff. Even so, a record 23 college presidents are earning more than $1 million annually according to a new survey from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Overall, median compensation for private college and university presidents increased 6.5 percent from the previous fiscal year to $359,000. The highest paid presidents can be found at doctorate-granting institutions. Median compensations at these institutions rose 15.5 percent to $628,000 for the 2007-2008 academic year.

10 Highest Paid College Presidents

Rank Name College Pay
1 Shirley Ann Jackson Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY $1,598,247
2 David Sargent Suffolk University, Boston, MA $1,496,593
3 Steadman Upham University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK $1,485,275
4 Richard Meyers Webster University, St Louis, MO $1,429,738
5 Cornelius Kerwin American University, Washington, D.C. $1,419,339
6 Lee Bollinger Columbia University, New York, NY $1,380,035
7 Donald DeRosa University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA $1,350,743
8 John Sexton New York University, New York, NY $1,297,475
9 Robert Bottoms DePauw University, Greencastle, IN $1,296,455
10 Nicholas Zeppos Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN $1,275,309

Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, topped the list as the highest paid private college president. David Sargent of Suffolk University was second and Steadman Upham of the University of Tulsa was third.

A number of college presidents, including Shirley Ann Jackson, have taken voluntary pay-cuts to offset the many budget-cuts that are being made at their institutions. Nevertheless, it is likely that many of these millionaire presidents will take some flack for their salaries from parents and students who are struggling to keep up with the rising costs of college.

According to the latest report from College Board, average tuition is now $26,273 at private four-year institutions and $32,349 at private doctorate-granting institutions. Average room and board has also increased significantly: 4.2 percent at private four-year universities and 4.1 percent at private doctorate-granting institutions.

Next: View Schools
Created with Sketch. Link to this page

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?