Kirwan ranks in the top 50 of highest-paid public college presidents

William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, speaks at the University of Baltimore Wednesday, May 14, 2014, in Baltimore.
William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, speaks at the University of Baltimore Wednesday, May 14, 2014, in Baltimore.(Steve Ruark, Baltimore Sun)

University System of Maryland Chancellor William E. Kirwan's salary ranks in the top 50 of public college presidents in the nation, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education's annual survey released Sunday.

In addition to Kirwan, who is retiring at the end of this month, three other presidents in Maryland made the list of top earners for fiscal year 2014: Wallace D. Loh of the University of Maryland, College Park; Freeman A. Hrabowski III of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and Mickey L. Burnim of Bowie State University.


On June 30, Kirwan will be leaving his position as chancellor after 12 years. He earned $540,534 in 2014, about $40,000 more than the previous year, ranking him at No. 48 in the nation. In Maryland, the presidents' base pay was their total compensation.

Mike Lurie, spokesman for the university system, said in a statement, "At the highest level of leadership, the University System of Maryland understands that it must offer competitive compensation packages that allow the USM to retain and attract the nation's best leaders, including the chancellor and presidents of the 12 USM institutions."


The increase in Kirwan's pay came after all USM employees experienced pay cuts from state furloughs and salary freezes and a cost-of-living increase was subsequently given to all state employees.

"The chancellor received a 5 percent merit raise in the final two months of the 2014 fiscal year," Lurie said. "That increase fell within the range of merit raises for exempt USM employees whose performance was rated highly."

Public data on 238 chief executives and 220 public universities and systems was gathered from institutions who agreed to be surveyed by The Chronicle. Morgan State University in Baltimore, which is not part of the university system, is among the 16 institutions that declined to report their 2014 data.

According to The Chronicle's report, the median pay of college presidents has increased by 7 percent since last year. The median for presidents who served a full year is $428,250. Rodney A. Erickson, former president of Penn State, and R. Bowen Loftin, former president of Texas A&M University at College Station, both earned more than $1 million.

"It is important for colleges and students to know how much their respective president is making," said Sandhya Kambhampati, database reporter with The Chronicle. "Our report is used by researchers and colleges around the country to determine the best pay for their presidents."

Kambhampati also said that presidential benefits continue to be a "hot button" politically.

"With pay increasing, there's public scrutiny and there are different groups looking at ways to make sure that the public knows about this," she said.

In Maryland, Loh, who has led College Park for five years, ranked No. 55 making $526,590. Hrabowski, who has been president of UMBC for 23 years, ranked No. 94 with a salary of $438,025. Burnim of Bowie State, who has been president since 2006, made $295,202, coming in at No. 174.



Public university president salaries

The top 5 public university president earners by total compensation, which includes base pay, bonus, deferred compensation paid out, and severance, for fiscal year 2014:


Rodney A. Erickson, Pennsylvania State University at University Park: $1,494,603

R. Bowen Loftin, Texas A&M University at College Station: $1,128,957

Joseph A. Alutto, Ohio State University: $996,169

Elson S. Floyd, Washington State University: $877,250

Paula Allen-Meares, University of Illinois at Chicago: $872,458

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education

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