Bryant’s Machtley, JWU’s Bowen ranked highest-compensated
private-college leaders in U.S. in 2017

BRYANT UNIVERSITY President Ronald K. Machtley was ranked as the highest-compensated private-college leader in the U.S. in 2017, according to rankings released Tuesday by The Chronicle of Higher Education. / PBN FILE PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
BRYANT UNIVERSITY President Ronald K. Machtley was ranked as the highest-compensated private-college leader in the U.S. in 2017, in a new report by The Chronicle of Higher Education. / PBN FILE PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY

PROVIDENCE – A soon-to-be retired leader of a Rhode Island-based private university is ranked as the nation’s highest-compensated private-college president, while a former private university chancellor is a close second.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, which has a database of more than 1,400 chief executives at more than 600 private colleges from 2008 to 2017, released its figures Tuesday showing that Bryant University President Ronald K. Machtley made more than $6.2 million in 2017. Machtley’s financial compensation, which includes $5.4 million in long-term deferred compensation that was designed to keep him in charge at the Smithfield-based university on top of his $695,000 base salary, ranks him No. 1 out of the 560 private-college chief executives listed by The Chronicle.

In a statement Tuesday, Bryant said it is “not surprised” Machtley topped the list because he has served 24 years at the university – and will retire in May – and long-term compensation is accumulated over “many years of service but paid out in a lump sum.”

“Further, his long-term compensation plan invested amounts in the equity markets during a period of historic growth,” the university said. “Machtley’s long tenure during this bull market contributed to size of the payment. Most importantly, President Machtley’s long tenure is distinguished with successes in academic programs, student outcomes, fundraising, financial stability, athletics, and facilities expansion.”

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Former Johnson & Wales University Chancellor, CEO and President John J. Bowen, who retired in 2018, was ranked No. 2 in the country for total compensation in 2017 earning more than $5.3 million. Bowen’s compensation includes $4.6 million in “other pay” and $33,978 in nontaxable benefits on top of his $706,666 base salary for that year.

Other executive compensation for private-college leaders within Rhode Island and Bristol County, Mass., according to The Chronicle, are:

  • Christina H. Paxson, Brown University president – $1.3 million.
  • Rosanne Somerson, Rhode Island School of Design president – $594,427.
  • Donald J. Farish, Roger Williams University president (deceased) – $581,264.
  • Dennis M. Hanno, Wheaton College president – $483,482.
  • Sister Jane Gerety, Salve Regina University president (retired) – $86,770; took a vow of poverty and does not receive compensation.
  • Rev. Brian J. Shanley, Providence College president – $58,066; took a vow of poverty and does not receive compensation.
  • Rev. John F. Denning, Stonehill College president – $30,434; took a vow of poverty and does not receive compensation.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com.

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