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Penn State’s Eric Barron third highest paid public university president

Deb Erdley
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Penn State University President Eric J. Barron was the third highest paid public university president in the nation in 2018

Penn State alumni can claim boasting rights this week thanks to a ranking that has nothing to do with college sports.

A survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education found Penn State President Eric J. Barron was the third highest paid public university president in the nation last year when he brought home $1,834,364.

Mark Dambly, chair of the Penn State board of trustees, said Barron is “an exceptional leader,” who has helped lead a fundraising campaign that has raised $1.1 billion for Penn State.

“He continues to be focused on expanding access and affordability, savings and revenue implementation, economic development, addressing major issues of campus and public concern for higher education, building the strategic enterprise and implementing the university’s long-range Strategic Plan,” Dambly said.

Only a pair of Texans bested Barron. William H. McRaven, president of the University of Texas System, was the highest paid public university president in 2018 at $2,578,609. Michael K. Young, president of Texas A&M at College Station, came in second at $1,893,740.

The three were among 17 out of 250 public university presidents who were paid in excess of $1 million last year.

Barron’s paycheck, which included a $1 million deferred bonus, put him well ahead of his University of Pittsburgh counterpart Chancellor Patrick Gallagher who was paid $598,668, and Temple President Richard Englert, who collected $875,616.

The average public university president collected $544,347 last year, the Chronicle reported.

In addition to reportable compensation, most also received housing and associated benefits.

Still, the compensation does not compare to salaries some coaches pull in at Pitt and Penn State.

The Chronicle reported that Pitt paid head football coach Pat Narduzzi $4,023,771, or nearly seven times as much as Gallagher was paid to oversee the entire enterprise. Penn State paid head football coach James Franklin $5,132,931.

Barron’s record take at Penn State goes back to his original contract in 2014, when he was guaranteed a $200,000 a year deferred bonus if he completed five years at the head of the university.

Barron’s predecessor Graham Spanier, himself once among the highest paid college presidents, was among the current university officials the Chronicle listed for comparison.

Spanier was ousted from the president’s office in 2011 in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal, but remains on the payroll as a university professor and president emertius at a salary of $205,008 a year.

His earnings while on administrative leave are slightly lower than those of executives with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania President Michael Driscoll was the top earner among the State System schools at $438,000. Dan Greenstein, the new State System chancellor, who began working there last fall, has an annual salary of $380,000.

State payroll records listed the compensation for other State System presidents who were not included in the survey. Geraldine Jones at California University of Pennsylvania made $294,583, while Slippery Rock President William Behre was paid $278,00 and Clarion President Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson collected $232,000.

Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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