Presidents at 42 private colleges scaled the $1 million annual mark in total pay and benefits in 2011—a slight bump from the year before, according to a survey based on the latest federal tax information from the 500 private schools with the largest endowments.
Total median compensation was $410,523, or 3.2 percent more.
A high salary can be a sign of prestige for presidents, but it also opens them to criticism. The Obama administration and consumers are pressuring schools to rein in tuition costs, increase graduation rates and strengthen the value of a diploma.
The Chronicle of Higher Education's report released Sunday used federal tax information from 2011, the most recent available.
The top earner in the survey was Robert J. Zimmer, the president of the University of Chicago. His base pay was $918,000, but his total compensation was $3.4 million. About 40 percent of his total earnings stem from deferred compensation—a retention tool commonly used to keep college presidents on the job longer, according to the Chronicle.