USC, UC presidents among country’s top paid school execs, survey says

USC, UC presidents among country’s top paid school execs, survey says
USC President C. L. Max Nikias, right, attends a press conference with USC football coach Steve Sarkisian and his wife and daughter on Dec. 3. Nikias was the top paid California school chief in 2011, according to an annual survey released Sunday.
(Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times)

USC President C. L. Max Nikias was the 13th-highest compensated private university president in 2011, making nearly $1.4 million in total pay, while former UC President Mark G. Yudof was the eighth-best paid public education executive, according to an annual survey released Sunday.

University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer made nearly $3.3 million, ranking him first among private college or university chiefs, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, while ex-Penn State University President Graham Spanier was the highest paid public president, making $2.9 million during the 2012 fiscal year.


The study includes base pay, bonuses, housing and transportation allowances as part of the administrators’ total compensation.

Yudof made about $847,000 in total pay, according to the survey. His successor, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, voluntarily accepted a cut in base pay when she was confirmed by the Board of Regents this summer. Napolitano makes $570,000 a year.


Gov. Jerry Brown has criticized UC officials for asking for more funding than the state has offered and he questioned the salary of one UC Riverside attorney. Nationally, the salaries and perks for administrators at such schools as New York University and the City University of New York have been criticized as too extravagant.

Overall, 42 private school leaders received more than $1 million in total compensation, an increase of six from the previous year, according to the survey.

Stephen C. Morgan, the longtime president of the University of La Verne, was the second-highest compensated California private school executive. Morgan, who has been the school’s president for 26 years, received about $1.2 million, although his base salary was $150,840.

The difference was due to a retirement bonus Morgan was given when he stepped down in 2011.


James L. Doti, who has been president of Chapman University for 22 years, was the third-highest paid president in California — behind Nikias and Yudof — making about $1.1 million, according to the survey, more than double what he made in 2010.

Most of the increase came from a one-time retention payment, which Doti then returned to the school as a gift. The money helped pay for a new classroom building and an endowed scholarship, according to Chapman officials.

Stanford President John L. Hennessy was the fourth-best compensated state executive in 2011, at nearly $1.1 million, followed by the presidents of Pepperdine at about $960,000 and Caltech at $890,000.

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