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Spanier tops list of highest-paid university leaders

| Sunday, May 12, 2013, 6:36 p.m.
Penn State President Graham Spanier presents head football coach Joe Paterno with a plaque commemorating his 409th collegiate win after an NCAA college football game against Illinois in State College, Pa. in this Oct. 29, 2011 file photo. Spanier is accused of perjury, endangering children and other charges in the Jerry Sandusky molestation scandal. According to online court records charges were filed, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, against Penn State's ex-president and two other administrators in what prosecutors called 'a conspiracy of silence.' (AP Photo | Gene J. Puskar)
Associated Press
Penn State President Rodney Erickson says it's time to end the debate over sanctions handed down by the NCAA over the university's handling of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

The severance package former Penn State University President Graham Spanier received when he lost his job because of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal made him the highest-paid of 212 public research university presidents in 2011-12.

Spanier, who made $2.9 million and is awaiting a preliminary hearing on charges that he covered up allegations against Sandusky, declined to comment on the Chronicle of Higher Education's annual salary survey released on Sunday.

He has consistently maintained his innocence in the criminal case.

Only three other public university presidents had compensation packages that exceeded $1 million in the 2011-12 fiscal year: Jay Gogue at Auburn University at $2.54 million; E. Gordon Gee of Ohio State University at $1.89 million; and Alan G. Merten at George Mason University, $1.86 million.

Penn State previously reported the university owed Spanier $2.47 million in severance pay, and the majority of it would not be paid out until 2017, but people familiar with his case said the numbers reported to the Chronicle of Higher Education included parts of that income that were taxable and reportable earlier.

A Penn State spokeswoman said the Chronicle's decision to use a figure for Spanier that includes his severance creates an inaccurate picture.

“If the Chronicle wishes to show a true comparison of the salaries of presidents in higher education, it should be done in a more accurate way based on the same criteria for all presidents,” said Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers.

Spanier was third in last year's survey, which pegged his total compensation for 2010-11 at $1,068,763.

The Chronicle survey includes identifies the bulk of Spanier's compensation as severance and deferred compensation. It used the university's figures about Spanier's compensation for the 2011 calendar year because Penn State declined to provide the figure for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Powers said Penn State wanted to avoid confusion with numbers it will publish this month when it files calendar year compensation figures for the school's top earners to comply with the Pennsylvania Right to Know law.

The university's figures for the 2011-12 fiscal year put current President Rodney Erickson 65th on the list with $549,364 in compensation.

University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg was 41st on the list at $628,880.

John C. Cavanaugh, former chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, ranked 159th in the survey at $351,427; former Indiana University of Pennsylvania President David J. Werner was 191st at $276,279.

The survey pegged median total compensation for presidents in the new survey at $441,392, up 4.7 percent from the prior year.

Gee, who topped the 2010-11 earnings list and became the first public college president in the million-dollar club in 2007-08, had the highest base salary last year: $830,439. That was more than double the median base salary, which inched up 2 percent to $373,800.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. she can be reached at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com.

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