BU president earned more than $1 million in 2013

Boston University president Robert A. Brown was the only private college president in Massachusetts to earn more than $1 million in 2013.
Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff/File 2014
Boston University president Robert A. Brown was the only private college president in Massachusetts to earn more than $1 million in 2013.

Boston University president Robert A. Brown was the highest-paid private college president in Massachusetts in 2013, and the only one in the state who earned more than $1 million, according to a survey.

Brown was paid $1.18 million in salary and benefits, a 2 percent increase over the previous year, according to the annual survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education, which used the most recent data available from federal tax filings by 497 colleges.

Nationwide, private college presidents’ median total compensation reached $436,429 in 2013, up 5.6 percent from 2012. That rate is more than double the rate at which it rose last year.


Northeastern’s Joseph E. Aoun was the second-highest-paid private college president in the Bay State, earning about $999,000 in salary and benefits. Brandeis president Frederick M. Lawrence, who stepped down earlier this year, was next, at $938,759.

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Drew Faust of Harvard University earned $929,584, putting her fourth in the state and 42d in the country, according to the survey, which was released Monday. Last year, Faust ranked 47th nationwide.

Columbia University president Lee C. Bollinger topped the list as the nation’s highest-paid private college president, earning $4.6 million. The second-highest was University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann, at $3 million.

In all, 32 private college presidents earned more than $1 million. Since 2008, 77 presidents have earned that distinction, the Chronicle found.

The earnings include base salary, bonuses, and other benefits, including payments for housing, travel, moving expenses, and spending accounts.


The earnings do not include deferred compensation, a pool of money many presidents accrue during their tenure and collect when they leave, as long as they do not resign before a specified date. The Chronicle counts deferred compensation only in the year it is paid out.

The presidents of both Boston College and College of the Holy Cross, Jesuit colleges, did not receive salaries.

Lavish presidential pay packages have come under scrutiny in recent years as tuitions rise and students graduate with crippling debt. Boston University costs $63,000 for tuition and housing; Northeastern costs about $60,000.

At BU, Brown’s base salary is $828,861, plus $101,548 in other income and $252,125 in nontaxable benefits, most of which is the fair market rental value of the presidential home. Trustees set Brown’s salary based on a number of variables, “including his leadership and the measurable impact which it has on the university,” BU spokesman Colin Riley said in an e-mail.

“By those measures, the institution under Dr. Brown continues its now 10-year long rise in academic, research, student, faculty, community and fund-raising excellence,” Riley said.

The highest-paid private college presidents in Massachusetts
College President Total Compensation
Boston University Robert A. Brown $1,182,534
Northeastern University Joseph E. Aoun $998,960
Brandeis University Frederick M. Lawrence $938,759
Harvard University Drew Gilpin Faust $929,584
Massachusetts Institute of Technology L. Rafael Reif $878,324
Emerson College M. Lee Pelton $811,448
Tufts University Anthony P. Monaco $795,625
Springfield College* Richard B. Flynn $711,891
Bentley University Gloria Cordes Larson $691,806
Worcester Polytechnic Institute* Dennis D. Berkey $679,532

* denotes partial year data.

The data is for 2013, the most recent available. The median salary of private college presidents nationally that year was $436,429.

SOURCE: The Chronicle of Higher Education

The highest-paid private college presidents in the US
College President Total Compensation
Columbia University Lee C. Bollinger $4,615,230
University of Pennsylvania Amy Gutmann $3,065,746
High Point University Nido Qubein $2,909,148
Yeshiva University Richard M. Joel $2,503,794
Vanderbilt University Nicholas S. Zeppos $2,147,452
Tulane University Scott S. Cowen $1,634,000
Johns Hopkins University Ronald J. Daniels $1,629,325
Rockefeller University Marc Tessier-Lavigne $1,459,267
New York University John E. Sexton $1,452,992
University of Southern California C.L. Max Nikias $1,422,458

Laura Krantz can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @laurakrantz.