Pay for nation’s public university presidents (including UNC) going up

The pay for presidents of public universities is rising, with the median salary for the president of a public university now $428,250.

That’s an increase of 7 percent, while two presidents in the nation (at Pennsylvania State University and Texas A&M) made more than $1 million, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which released its annual survey of public college presidents this week.

UNCsystemUniversity of North Carolina system President Tom Ross made $543,725 during the 2014-15 school year, according the Chronicle analysis. N.C. State University Chancellor Randy Woodson made $520,000, as did UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt.

Scott Ralls, the outgoing head of the state’s community college system, made $286,954.

In an article about the Chronicle’s findings, the New York Times pointed out that not all college presidents want that higher pay.

The University of Texas’ incoming president turned down a $1 million base salary, asking instead for $750,000 out of concern of how the higher pay would be perceived by students, faculty and the state legislature.

The paycheck for the top job at UNC is likely to increase from Ross’ current salary, after the UNC Board of Governors moved in April to allow for salaries up to $1.1 million for the new president as well as increased pay for chancellors.

The board is in the midst of its search for a new president of the 16-campus system, after Ross was pushed out in January by the politically-appointed board for reasons that have still not been explained. Ross will stay in his position until January.

Pay, and the ability to offer more money to job candidates, has been mentioned by some board members as a necessary tool to recruit UNC’s next leader.

The decision to allow for more pay for top executives in the university systems comes after several years of deep cuts handed down to the university system by the state legislature, and as faculty and staff have seen little change in their salaries during the course of the recession.

There may be some salary increases for UNC employees, however. The House version of next year’s budget has a 2 percent raise proposed for university system staff and faculty.

The Senate is expected to release its version of the budget in coming days, though Senate leaders have said to expect a significantly smaller budget than what their colleagues in the House prepared.

So, what do you think? Should North Carolina be paying its top university leaders what it does? How much does salary matter when it comes to recruiting for top university jobs?


  1. Altha Cravey

    June 9, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    I rely on your reporting to stay informed about the changes in the UNC system so I organize to protect this amazing public resource. It belongs to all North Carolinians and I hope we can all work to maintain it as a public institution. Right now it seems like UNC leaders are trying to compete with the so-called reform movement that is based on performance-based-funding rather than the historical mission of UNC.

  2. Gene Hoglan

    June 9, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    The ridiculous sums paid to chancellors and system presidents is one thing, but the real waste is in the number of lower level administrators with inflated salaries. This is by no means limited to postsecondary education either.

  3. LayintheSmakDown

    June 9, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    So Altha…is performance not a historical mission? I would assume the mission of a University should be to produce well educated students who can contribute in society and the job market. I can see you confusion as for decades the radical progressives have worked ceaselessly to destroy that model and implement institutions that are only meant to “reeducate” our young to the destructive progressive concepts.
    Gene, you are right on. Just look at Gene Nicol, the poster child for this what with his $200k salary and teaching only two classes.

  4. Gene Hoglan

    June 10, 2015 at 5:16 am

    LSD, Nichol is faculty, not an administrator. $200k is in line with endowed faculty at the UNC law school, and fairly low for similar endowed positions nationwide. Pick your battles more carefully.

  5. LayintheSmakDown

    June 10, 2015 at 11:10 am

    That is too high for him then. He must have some big dirt on his buddies to get them to “endow” him that much.

  6. Gene Hoglan

    June 10, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Okay, so it’s clear you don’t understand how endowed positions work. A rich person or company or organization sets up a fund to pay that person’s salary out of the interest earned from that money. The school itself doesn’t pay a dime. They’re part and parcel of every school, and anyone can set one up. In fact a few years back John Allison from BB&T established a set of Ayn Rand endowed professorships at a bunch of business schools, including several UNC campuses, purely to teach Atlas Shrugged.

  7. LayintheSmakDown

    June 11, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Like I said, his buddies “endow” him. He must have some serious dirt on them.

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