Columbia’s Bollinger Paid Most of Ivy League Chiefs

Columbia University President Lee Bollinger
Columbia University President Lee Bollinger. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Columbia University President Lee Bollinger was the Ivy League’s highest-paid president in 2008 at $1.75 million in total compensation, as 30 college leaders received more than $1 million in pay.

Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania joined Columbia as Ivy League schools paying their top executive more than $1 million, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The paper yesterday published a study of pay for presidents of 448 private, nonprofit U.S. colleges and universities.

The number of presidents making more than $1 million a year rose from 23 in 2007. None was making that much as recently as 2004, according to the Chronicle. After 2008, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service changed some compensation reporting requirements for colleges, including adjusting the time period surveyed to a calendar year rather than a fiscal year. As a result, comparisons to previous years can’t be made.

“Baby boomers make up the largest share of college presidents and many will retire soon and see large payouts,” according to a Chronicle statement. “With a large number of retirements expected, boards are also competing against each other for top talent to replace the retiring leaders, making colleges more willing to cut deals in presidential contracts.”

Best Paid

Bollinger’s compensation consists of pay and benefits including housing.

The highest-paid president in 2008 was Touro College’s Bernard Lander, who made $4.8 million. Lander, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, founded New York-based Touro in 1970 and died on Feb. 8 at age 94, according to the college’s website. His pay included $4.2 million in deferred compensation and benefits, according to the Chronicle.

The second-highest paid president in 2008 was John Brazil, of Trinity University in San Antonio, who received $2.78 million and retired in 2009. He was followed by R. Gerald Turner, president of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, who was paid $2.77 million, which includes cashing out a life-insurance policy, according to the Chronicle.

Among Ivy League presidents, Richard Levin of Yale, in New Haven, Connecticut, was paid $1.53 million; Amy Gutmann, of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, made $1.37 million; and David Skorton, of Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York, who was paid $915,913 in 2008.

Ruth Simmons of Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island, was paid $884,771; Shirley Tilghman, of Princeton University, in Princeton, New Jersey, made $881,151; Drew Faust, of Harvard University, received $822,011; and James Wright, the now-retired president of Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire, got $687,404.

RPI Leader

Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, New York, was the highest compensated university leader in fiscal 2008, under the old IRS reporting requirements. In calendar 2008, with the new requirements, her pay of $1.66 million ranked ninth.

The Ivy League consists of eight private universities in the Northeastern U.S.

Robert Zimmer, president of University of Chicago, got $1.16 million; John Hennessy, of Stanford University, near Palo Alto, California, made $1.09 million; and Susan Hockfield of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology received $940,227.

The compensation figures are based on the most recently available federal tax returns.

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