NAICU President David L. Warren Comments on the Chronicle of Higher Education's Private College and University Compensation Study

February 23, 2009

Tony Pals,
o: 202-739-0474 c: 202-288-9333


The individuals listed in the Chronicle's analysis are among the most talented, highly sought-after professionals in their respective fields. They include those who hold critical leadership positions in complex organizations that have thousands of employees and multi-million dollar budgets. They include highly trained specialists on the cutting edge of research and professional training in health and medicine.


The median total compensation package of the Chronicle's complete list of highest compensated private college and university employees is $160,493. In other words, on average, a private college or university provides its top five to 10 employees a median salary and benefits package that's significantly lower than what comparably skilled and experienced individuals would earn in the for-profit sector.


The comparisons that have been made between the corporations receiving government bail outs and nonprofit colleges and universities are far stretched. The economic stimulus package provides no direct support to private colleges and universities. The bill provides direct assistance to low- and middle-income students. It increases the Pell Grant by $500, raises the federal tax credit for college expenses by $700, and boosts funding for Federal Work Study by $200 million.


Leaders of nonprofit organizations -- and their boards of directors -- are very aware of the concerns regarding executive compensation. They take seriously their responsibility to make a good-faith effort to avoid excessive salary and benefits packages. In the midst of the nation's economic crisis, a growing number of private colleges and universities have announced salary freezes, and in some cases, salary cuts, for their leadership teams. These savings are being transferred to other budget areas to increase student aid and keep student out-of-pocket costs as low as possible, and to safeguard academic quality and faculty jobs.


NAICU serves as the unified national voice of independent higher education. Since 1976, the association has represented private colleges and universities on policy issues with the federal government, such as those affecting student aid, taxation, and government regulation. With more than 1,000 member institutions and associations, NAICU reflects the diversity of private, nonprofit higher education in the United States. NAICU members enroll nine out of every 10 students attending private institutions. They include traditional liberal arts colleges, major research universities, comprehensive universities, church- and faith-related institutions, historically black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, single-sex colleges, art institutions, two-year colleges, and schools of law, medicine, engineering, business, and other professions.

MORE News from NAICU