Update: How Well Paid Are Christian College Presidents?

In 2013 I parsed some data from The Chronicle of Higher Education to see how well evangelical college and university presidents were paid. Since the Chronicle just released an updated version of the study, today thought I’d revisit that question.

CCCU signFour years ago about a third of the presidents in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) were included in the Chronicle set, with the median CCCU president earning just a shade under $300,000 in total compensation — over $80,000 lower than the median for all private college presidents in the study. Just seven CCCU presidents were in the top half of earners. But if you expressed presidential compensation as a share of overall institutional expenditures, then the CCCU set exceeded the overall median. By that standard seven CCCU presidents were in the top 100, with Bill Ellis (Howard Payne) and Dub Oliver (East Texas Baptist, now at Union University) cracking the top 50.

And now? Thirty-five CCCU presidents appear in the newest version of the Chronicle exercise with data from 2014 (the most recent for which numbers were available). In general, they were paid much less than their peers (only 86.5% of the national median for private colleges). But eight were in the top half of the rankings, and presidential compensation again accounted for a larger share of institutional expenses at CCCU schools than at most other private colleges.

By two newer measures — ratios of executive compensation to average student tuition and to average salary for full professor — the CCCU presidents were right in the national middle, with earnings equal to the tuition paid by just over 12 students and the salary earned by 4.4 senior faculty members.

Here’s the full Google Sheet, if you want to see the full data. One thing to note: there are only three women on this list, and the highest-paid (Kim Phipps of Messiah College) earns 10% less than the median compensation for private college presidents.

Then here are the three highest compensated CCCU presidents by each of the Chronicle measures — again, as of 2014 (one of them has since retired). As with the earlier study, I’m struck that leaders of Baptist universities in the South appear so frequently at or near the top of these lists.

TOTAL COMPENSATION

  1. Randy O'Rear
    Randy O’Rear – Univ. of Mary Hardin-Baylor

    Gary Cook, Dallas Baptist ($613,654 — note: Cook completed his term as president last year)

  2. Randy O’Rear, Mary Hardin-Baylor ($539,165)
  3. Philip Ryken, Wheaton ($516,148)

PER MILLION OF INSTITUTIONAL EXPENSES

  1. Bill Ellis, Howard Payne ($11,737/95th percentile)
  2. Evans Whitaker, Anderson-SC ($9,879/90th)
  3. Greg Christy, Northwestern-IA ($8,268/83rd)

RATIO OF EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION TO STUDENT TUITION

  1. Cook, Dallas Baptist (25.9/91st percentile)
  2. Lee Royce, Mississippi College (24.3/89th)
  3. O’Rear, Mary Hardin-Baylor (22.4/87th)

RATIO OF EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION TO FULL PROFESSOR SALARY

  1. Whitaker, Anderson-SC (8.2/93rd percentile)
  2. Cook, Dallas Baptist (7.6/91st)
  3. O’Rear, Mary Hardin-Baylor (6.9/87th)
Vandiver Hall, Anderson University
Vandiver Hall at Anderson University (SC) – Creative Commons (Good Grades)

Speaking of Baptist universities in the South, you might be wondering where Baylor and Liberty are, since they both aspire to being the country’s leading Protestant university. Neither is a CCCU member (Baylor has associate status), but for the record, here’s the Chronicle data for their leaders in 2014:

Jerry Falwell, Jr. was one of the 50 highest paid private college presidents in the country, clearing $926,634 — the equivalent of nearly 12 full professors at Liberty.

• Baylor’s then-president, Ken Starr, was just behind Falwell, earning almost $896,000 — equal to eight of that university’s full professors’ collective salary.


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