Click here to view the complete Chronicle of Higher Education annual survey of executive compensation.
LINCOLN — With $651,908 total compensation, University of Nebraska President J.B. Milliken was the 34th-highest-paid president of a public university during the 2011-12 fiscal year, according to a new national survey.
He ranked ahead of Sally Mason, University of Iowa president since 2007, whose compensation of $633,350 put her at 39th among public university presidents.
The information about Milliken's and Mason's pay was included in the Chronicle of Higher Education's annual survey of executive compensation, released Sunday.
The survey reported compensation data for chief executives at 191 public universities and systems in the United States.
David Lechner, NU vice president for business and finance, protested that the survey artificially inflated Milliken's pay by including about $175,000 in deferred compensation paid out last year. Milliken earned the deferred compensation, at a rate of 11 percent per year, over several years. In 2011-12 he received a payment covering his five prior years as NU president.
Milliken's base salary in 2011-12 was $411,370.
“I disagree with their way of calculating,” Lechner said. “I don't think it represents what he earned that year.”
The Chronicle report, however, included such payments in its calculations for all executives listed in the survey.
The highest-paid executive for the year was Graham Spanier, a former University of Nebraska-Lincoln chancellor who was ousted from Penn State University in November 2011 after the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.
The $1.25 million in severance pay and $1.25 million in deferred compensation that Spanier received put him atop the list, although he was already well-paid. He ranked as the third-highest-compensated executive in U.S. higher education in 2010-11, when he collected $1.07 million.
Auburn University's Jay Gogue was second on the 2011-12 list. Upon his hiring in 2007, Gogue was promised $1.25 million in deferred compensation if he stayed five years. The five years were up in 2011-12, and his total compensation topped $2.5 million.
Spanier and Gogue both moved ahead of Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee, who had been the nation's highest-paid public university president for several years running. His compensation in 2011-12 was $1.89 million, compared with $1.99 million the previous year.
The Chronicle's calculation of compensation adds bonuses, retirement payments, severance pay, deferred compensation payments and deferred compensation amounts set aside for future payments.
NU's Milliken, president since 2004, moved from 100th place in the 2011 survey to 34th in 2012. In addition to the deferred compensation payment, he received a 12 percent salary increase. The Chronicle also included in its calculations $19,197 set aside for his retirement.
Milliken received the 2011 raise after voluntarily freezing his salary for two years in 2009. The raise he accepted in 2011 was approved by the Board of Regents in 2008.
Lechner disagreed with the survey for including $47,310 in deferred compensation set aside for future payment if Milliken remains two more years as president. Lechner called the inclusion of those funds “double counting,” because the same funds are reported when they are set aside and again when they are paid out. The Chronicle said its report was consistent with the way the IRS taxes such compensation.
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Chronicle of Higher Education's survey
Compensation and rankings of select public college presidents and chancellors, including some from the Big Ten and Big 12:
|6||Mary Sue Coleman||University of Michigan system||$918783|
|8||Mark G. Yudof||University of California system||$847149|
|10||Francisco G. Cigarroa||University of Texas system||$815833|
|18||William C. Powers||University of Texas at Austin||$719792|
|24||Michael Hogan||University of Illinois system||$680525|
|26||Lou Anna K. Simon||Michigan State University||$672000|
|32||Michael McRobbie||Indiana University system||$653258|
|33||Eric W. Kaler||University of Minnesota, Twin Cities||$653235|
|47||David L. Boren||University of Oklahoma, Norman||$608447|
|144||Harvey S. Perlman||UNL||$368337|
|178||John E. Christensen||UNO||$316894|
Correction: A previous version of this story included an incorrect figure while comparing J.B. Milliken's compensation package with that offered other U.S. public higher education executives.