University President Robert Zimmer was the top-paid private university president in 2011, according to a report on executive compensation from the Chronicle of Higher Education, released Sunday. Zimmer earned nearly $3.4 million, a 110 percent increase from the $1.6 million he earned in 2010.
Much of the pay boost stems from a $1.3 million “payout of deferred compensation that had been set aside in previous years,” which institutions use as a means of retaining administrators. In 2011, it was Zimmer’s fifth year at the helm.
The report surveyed the most recent available tax data and then ranked the presidents based on their base pay and other compensation, including bonuses, benefits, and deferred compensation.
Zimmer earned about $918,000 in base pay but received $200,000 in bonuses, $454,800 in deferred compensation, $147,452 in non-taxable benefits, and $1.6 million in “other pay,” including the $1.3 million payout, roughly 40 percent of his total compensation.
The report also compared Zimmer's earnings to those of other key administrators. According to the data, seven other administrators made over a million dollars in 2011, including Vice President and Chief Investment Officer Mark Schmid, who received $2.4 million, and Vice President for Medical Affairs and Pritzker Medical School Dean Kenneth Polonsky, who received $1.8 million. Provost Thomas Rosenbaum made $659,600 in 2011, and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jim Nondorf made $407,250.
Following Zimmer on the list of private university presidents was Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University in Boston, earning $3.1 million. Also in the top 10 were the presidents of Columbia, Tufts, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. Elsewhere in the Chicago region, Northwestern University president Morton Schapiro was the 16th highest paid president.