Of those presidents, none do better than Gordon Gee.
West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee didn’t leave empty-handed when he retired as president of Ohio State University during the summer.
According to a survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Gee collected $6,057,615 in salary, bonuses, benefits and deferred compensation from the university for the 2012-13 fiscal year, as well as a generous five-year contract to serve as president emeritus through 2018.
That package, 40 percent of which the Chronicle said came from deferred compensation, is the largest the survey ever reported for a public university president, a Chronicle spokeswoman said.
“I don’t work as a university president for the salary. Those are set by boards,” said Gee, who led the University of Colorado, Brown and Vanderbilt during the past 33 years and is in his second presidency at West Virginia, where he first served from 1981-85.
“My service as a university president is truly a calling, and in the case of West Virginia University, it is a way of paying forward for the opportunities I was provided as a young president at the age of 36,” Gee said in a prepared statement.
The annual salary survey released on Sunday compared compensation for chief executives at 227 public universities. It was the second year in a row that an outgoing executive’s compensation rose to the top. Last year, outgoing Penn State President Graham Spanier’s final compensation package of $2.9 million put him at No. 1.
Gee, 69, retired from Ohio State after uproar about comments he made about Catholics and the University of Notre Dame. He didn’t stay retired long.
In January, he accepted a post as interim president at West Virginia. He took the post at a salary of $450,000. In March, WVU dropped the “interim” from Gee’s title.
WVU spokesman John Bolt said the university’s board of governors is in the final stages of negotiations with Gee and is expected to approve a two-year contract with a base salary of $775,000 a year this summer.
Although that is less than Gee collected at Ohio State, the figure is above the median for public university leaders, which the Chronicle calculated at $478,896.