Penn State president Graham Spanier is the fifth highest-paid public college president in the country, a new survey found.
The Chronicle of Higher Education report released Sunday night found it cost Penn State more than $800,500 to employ Spanier. That figure includes annual base pay, deferred compensation and retirement contributions.
The Chronicle's yearly survey comes as Spanier protests Gov. Tom Corbett's proposal to slash in half public funding to Penn State and 17 other schools. Penn State spokesman Geoff Rushton noted Monday that Spanier's tenure of more than 15 years is one of the longest in the country.
The salary, set by the school's board of trustees, is appropriate for Spanier's success at one of the nation's largest university systems with a budget of about $4 billion, Rushton said. The trustees also get input from financial advisers.
"You can frame it a lot of different ways," Rushton said when asked about the release of the report in a time of heated debate over state funding. "He has given more than $1 million back to the university. ... To lead an institution of this size, you need qualified leadership. You have to be able to meet those market forces."
Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee topped the list, costing the university $1.8 million. He was followed by former University of Washington leader Mark Emmert ($905,000), who is now NCAA president; University of Texas president Francisco Cigarroa ($813,800); and the University of Central Florida's John Hitt ($800,700).
Enrollment at Penn State has grown by 14,000 students during the last 10 years under Spanier, university vice president Bill Mahon told The Philadelphia Inquirer in Monday's editions. Mahon said Spanier's salary was frozen last year, along with the pay of other university employees "and he will share in the freeze announced for this summer, as well."
In Pennsylvania, Temple president Ann Weaver Hart was the next highest-paid after Spanier, with a total cost of employment of about $707,900. University of Pittsburgh chancellor Mark Nordenberg was next at roughly $524,700.
"The compensation of the chancellor is regularly publicly reported and you will recall that he and the other senior officers of the university voluntarily took no salary increases for two years" during 2008-09 and 2009-10, Pitt spokesman John Fedele told the Post-Gazette in Pittsburgh in a statement.
Two other Pennsylvania leaders were included in the survey: State System of Higher Education chancellor John Cavanaugh ($357,500) and Indiana University of Pennsylvania president Tony Atwater ($276,900).