Chapman University makes list of top 10 highest paid private college presidents

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President James Doti of Chapman University has joined the ranks of the nation's top 10 highest-paid private university presidents.

The annual survey in the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Doti’s total compensation to run the campus of just over 6,000 was about $1.5 million in 2009.

That same year, USC president Stephen Sample earned about $100,000 less to run his 34,000-student campus in Los Angeles. Sample was the only other president of a private California university in the top 20 compensation list. Number one on the list: the president of Drexel University in Philadelphia earned just shy of $5 million in 2009.

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s numbers come from tax documents filed by the universities, and are published annually in the magazine’s "Highest Paid College Presidents" report.

"The salaries of executives at private, nonprofit colleges and universities reflect supply and demand," said David L. Warren of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. "Searches for these positions at a significant number of independent institutions are highly competitive, and colleges must offer compensation packages that attract qualified leaders."

The statement went on to argue that presidential salaries "make up a very small percentage of overall campus budgets" and that they "have virtually no impact on tuition increases."

All in all, the report determined that the median total compensation among 519 presidents at colleges with budgets exceeding $50 million was $385,909. Of the nation's 1,600 private, nonprofit colleges, only 36 provide compensation of more than $1 million.

Private universities have largely escaped the criticism against rising executive pay at public institutions of higher learning.