A survey has found that the number of presidents of top private colleges and universities who are paid more than $500,000 annually in wages and benefits more than doubled last year.
The Chronicle of Higher Education survey, to be published Monday, found 27 private college presidents earned more than $500,000 in 2001, up from 12 in that compensation bracket the previous year.
Eighty-five presidents earned between $300,000 and $500,000, the survey reported.
The median compensation secured last year by leaders of doctoral universities was $356,092. Presidents at schools offering master's programs had a median salary of $173,547. At liberal arts colleges, the median salary was $205,323.
Judith Rodin, president of the University of Pennsylvania, topped the list with pay and benefits equaling $808,021. Former Princeton University President Harold T. Shapiro, with an annual compensation of $705,683, was next, followed by Johns Hopkins University President William R. Brody, at $677,564.
The Chronicle arrived at the figures by analyzing federal tax forms filed by 595 private colleges and universities.
Nancy Martin, a senior vice president with executive search corporation Witt/Kiefer, said the salaries are well-earned.
College presidents must balance the interests of many groups on their campuses while simultaneously raising money and running what is essentially a business, said Martin, who matches colleges and universities with presidential job applicants.
"Most of the presidents we know are on call seven days a week starting at 7 in the morning and ending at 10 at night. You're always on. So, if you look at the size of the salary, it is relatively small," she said.
The president of the Council of Independent Colleges, Richard Ekman, agreed that the salary level is justified.
Representing schools that have enrollments of up to 2,000 students, Ekman said the compensation paid out by the wealthier colleges in the council ranges between $250,000 and $300,000.