Rhode Island and Bristol County, Mass., private colleges and universities compensate their presidents well compared with their peers nationally, according to federal filings to the Internal Revenue Service.
Two of the 10 college leaders in 2011 – including the former president of Brown University and the current leader of Johnson & Wales University – earned more than $1 million thanks to deferred-compensation packages included with base pay and other benefits.
Excluding the three Catholic schools – Providence College, Salve Regina University and Stonehill College – whose much smaller stipends for religious leaders cover nominal benefits like housing and use of a vehicle, six of the seven remaining institutions paid their chosen leaders more than $410,523 – the amount that the Washington, D.C.-based Chronicle of Higher Education reports as the median for private-college presidents in 2011 – the most recent calendar year for which complete data is available. And three of those local college presidents earned double-digit increases in total compensation that calendar year.
Chronicle senior reporter Jack Stripling, who reports regularly on the topic of executive compensation in higher education, told Providence Business News that the comparatively high compensation – which includes base pay, incentives, retirement and deferred compensation – is not surprising in New England, where the cost of living is high and prestigious, pricey Ivy League schools, including Brown, dominate the educational landscape.
“New England has a lot of prominent ‘Ivies’ and is ground zero for some of the most prestigious institutions in the country,” Stripling said. “It stands to reason that boards of institutions in the region might find themselves paying more than the median – just based on the part of the country they’re in.”