Sure, college presidents take home a pretty hefty paycheck.
But if you want to find who's making the really big money on many college campuses, head straight for the football field, the medical school or the office that runs the school's finances or investing.
Presidents and chancellors, often criticized for extreme earnings, make up a relatively small share of the highest-paid employees on private college campuses, according to a survey of 600 schools being released today.
The Chronicle of Higher Education finds that chief campus executives accounted for only 11 of the 88 college employees earning $1 million or more in 2006-07, the most current year available. Chief executives accounted for less than half of the nearly 300 campus workers making at least $500,000.
Sometimes, the pay gap between employee and president isn't even close.
Topping the list of employees other than chief executives was Pete Carroll, University of Southern California head football coach. His total compensation of $4.4 million, not counting outside income, was nearly five times the $906,778 earned that year by the school's president, Steven B. Sample. Mr. Carroll's earnings included $4,331,148 in pay and $84,566 in benefits, The Chronicle said.
Second highest was David N. Silvers, a clinical professor in dermatology at Columbia University. His $4.3 million in total compensation -- including $4,301,018 in pay and $31,741 in benefits -- was three times the $1,411,894 earned that year by president Lee Bollinger.
Third highest was Michael M.E. Johns, executive vice president for health affairs at Emory University, whose $3.8 million in total compensation was nearly four times what president James Wagner earned that year. Dr. Johns' earnings of $3,726,930 in pay and $26,137 in benefits included an unspecified amount of deferred compensation for service from 1996 to 2007.
The highest-paid non-chief-executive on a private campus in Western Pennsylvania came in far below the $1 million mark. According to The Chronicle's data, Duane J. Seppi, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University, had total compensation of $455,411, including $413,395 in pay and $42,016 in benefits. Campus president Jared L. Cohon earned $591,876 that year.
The presence of $1 million salaries outside the president's office -- in areas from athletics to advancement -- reflects an evolution within those increasingly complex institutions, said Jeffrey J. Selingo, editor of The Chronicle.
"They have become like big businesses in many cases, and as a result, there is a race for talent," he said.
People who oversee college investments and finances are responsible for enormous enterprises, and medical professors can bring in huge sums of research and clinical money. That is reflected in what they are paid.
"Should that surprise people? Probably not," Mr. Selingo said.
"All that being said, these are nonprofit institutions under increasing scrutiny over their costs," he added.
The survey included compensation data for 4,110 campus employees. It came from federal financial reports that nonprofits must complete each year for the Internal Revenue Service.
Rounding out the five top-earning, non-chief-executives nationally were:
• Arthur H. Rubenstein, executive vice president and dean of the school of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, whose $3.3 million in total compensation included $1,817,214 in pay and $1,518,553 in benefits.
• Zev Rosenwaks, professor with the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility at Cornell University, whose $3.1 million in compensation included $3,101,231 in pay and $48,145 in benefits.
Mr. Selingo said he was struck by growth in pay to chief financial officers and chief academic affairs officers.
"Their salaries are now comparable to presidents at many places, and again, I think that's a reflection of their jobs," he said.
Eight of the 10 biggest earners nationally were administrators or professors in heath-related fields, with the remaining two being USC's head football coach and the chief investment officer at Yale University.
Mr. Selingo said he believes there would have been a much larger share of basketball and football coaches had the survey involved public universities with their Division 1 sports programs.
There were plenty in the survey making well below six figures.
For example, Lambuth University, a school in Tennessee affiliated with the United Methodist Church, paid its head football coach Victor D. Wallace $68,170, according to The Chronicle. Southern New Hampshire University paid its vice president for operations and finance in 2006-07 a sum of $55,000, according to The Chronicle.
Bill Schackner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1977.