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Editorial: College presidents’ pay is eye-popping

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s latest survey of 550 private college president salaries for 2011, there are 42 presidents making more than $1 million per year, and 180 are earning $500,000 per year or more. The median compensation at private not-for-profit colleges was about $410,000 per year.

The top earner, University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer, drifted into a class of his own at $3,358,723. Four private California college presidents made the list at $1 million-plus: USC, University of La Verne, Chapman University and Stanford.

Any questions? Yep, but not from their boards. Just from students.

When students and their parents routinely spend $30,000 to $60,000 per year in tuition, this compensation isn’t merely an academic question. Unless students go on to become college presidents themselves, they’ll be stuck servicing their own inflated student loans at a mere mortal’s wage. Grade inflation pales in comparison.

Perhaps U.S. News and World Report and President Barack Obama should use administrators’ salary as a metric when they rank colleges.

Students and parents shouldn’t have to earn what college presidents make to afford a degree.