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Heads of 4 colleges had sizable 2010 pay hikes

3 other presidents earned over $1m

Presidents at several private Massachusetts colleges saw significant pay increases between 2009 and 2010, according to a new survey of compensation by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The annual review of presidents’ pay, which has sparked uproar over local leaders’ salaries in past years, shows that presidents at Bentley University in Waltham, Curry College in Milton, Endicott College in Beverly, and Hampshire College in Amherst all received compensation increases of at least 24 percent and as much as 37 percent in 2010, according to available financial data.

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Representatives from Bentley, Curry, Endicott, and Hampshire were unavailable for comment Sunday night.

None of the presidents who saw large increases rank among the highest paid in the nation, according to the survey; all four fall in the middle of the pack, with total compensation packages between $511,000 and $667,000.

Three Massachusetts college presidents were making more than $1 million in 2010: Susan Hockfield at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Northeastern’s Joseph E. Aoun; and Boston University’s Robert A. Brown.

Hockfield left MIT in July after seven years as president and was succeeded by L. Rafael Reif, who had been the university’s provost. An MIT spokesman could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Northeastern’s Aoun made nearly $1.1 million in 2010, including $165,000 in bonus and incentive pay, for a 5.2 percent increase over 2009.

Michael Armini, a Northeastern spokesman, declined to comment on Aoun’s compensation, saying it was the purview of the university’s board of trustees. But Armini praised Aoun’s tenure, citing such accomplishments as a $60 million alumni donation announced in September and an improved standing in US News & World Report’s annual rankings of universities.

“By almost every metric, President Aoun’s tenure thus far has been a tour de force,” Armini said. “We’re now at record levels of fund-raising and record levels of research funding. In the last six years since he’s been president, our rank in US News has gone from 98 to 56.”

Brown, president of BU, saw his compensation top $1.1 million in 2010, which was slightly less than the previous year.

Colin Riley, a BU spokesman, said Brown’s total compensation is considerably higher than his salary because the university calculates the value of Brown’s housing allowance based on the full assessed value of the five-bedroom Brookline mansion where BU’s president lives. Many other universities include the value of the living quarters, but not first-floor spaces typically used for university functions, according to a 2010 Globe examination of IRS filings.

“He’s fairly compensated,” Riley said. “He’s an outstanding president and has done a terrific job leading the university.”

Nationwide, 36 college presidents made $1 million or more in annual compensation, the same number as in 2009. As recently as 2004, there were no college presidents who were paid that much.

Surging salaries have opened colleges to criticism that students increasingly burdened with college loans should not carry the added weight of fat pay raises for presidents.

In one such instance, Suffolk University came under fire in 2009 and 2010 for paying its former president, David J. Sargent, $1.5 million during the worldwide economic recession, a time when the university lost money on investments and its fund-raising efforts underperformed.

The school at first defended the package, which ranked second in the nation, but Sargent retired in October 2010 after an outcry by faculty and trustees.

That year, Sargent made $517,900, a decrease in pay of 65 percent from 2009, according to the newly released survey. A Suffolk spokesman declined to comment on Sargent’s compensation.

Another college president, Anthony S. Caprio at Springfield’s Western New England University, saw a nearly 60 percent decrease in compensation from 2009 to 2010, bringing his pay package to just under $479,000, the survey found.

Nationwide, the median total compensation for presidents at colleges with budgets of $50 million or more was $396,588 in 2010, a 2.8 percent increase over the previous year. The survey looked at presidents at 480 private colleges.

Jenna Russell can be reached at jrussell@globe.com. Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com.
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