The highest earner was Shirley Ann Jackson at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute based in Troy, New York. Her compensation included a payout of nearly $5.9 million that had been set aside over a decade as a retention incentive, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education's report released Sunday.
The Chronicle finds the median compensation for private college presidents was a little less than $400,000. That's an increase of 2.5 per cent from a year earlier.
A high salary for presidents can be prestigious, but it also opens them up to criticism as tuition prices continue to rise.
Presidents of some of the nation's most prestigious universities didn't hit the million mark but were close. The presidents of Princeton, Stanford and Harvard had compensation in the $900,000s. Many presidents who are members of religious orders earned no compensation at Roman Catholic institutions.
The Chronicle's analysis was conducted using tax forms and Education Department filings. It calculated the annual compensation using base salary, bonuses, other reportable compensation and nontaxable benefits. It didn't include compensation such as retirement pay set aside for future years but not paid out in 2012, the Chronicle said.
Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/compensation