Penn State

How does Barron's pay stack up to that of other Big Ten leaders?

Penn State president Eric Barron updates the board of trustees on digital innovation at Penn State during a meeting in February. Barron is among the top 10 highest paid public university officials.
Penn State president Eric Barron updates the board of trustees on digital innovation at Penn State during a meeting in February. Barron is among the top 10 highest paid public university officials. Centre Daily Times, file

The Penn State Board of Trustees likes its president enough to keep him around for another four years, approving a contract extension through June 2022 at its meeting in early May.

President Eric Barron, who's served in his position since May 2014, is among the top 10 highest paid public university officials. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Barron was the sixth-highest paid public college leader in the 2015-16 fiscal year. His total compensation for the year was $1,039,717.

Barron's annual salary is up to $834,364 and remains in place with his recent contract extension, to be reviewed annually. Originally, he was set to receive a $1 million completion payment next year, but instead he'll receive $800,000 of it at the end of June.

Barron will receive an annual $200,000 retention payment at the end of each contract year through June 2022. He'll also receive a second $800,000 completion payment if he remains in his position until then.

"President Barron has done an outstanding job of leading this great university and Penn State continues to make impressive strides under his direction," Mark Dambly, chairman of the Board of Trustees, said of Barron's contract extension. "He has been a force for positive change over the past four years and by extending his contract we ensure continued stability, academic quality and tremendous leadership."

Among the 14 Big Ten university leaders, Barron brought in the third most in 2015-16 — after Northwestern President Morton Schapiro, who raked in $1,527,994 in 2015, and Indiana University President Michael McRobbie, who made $1,067,074 in 2015-16, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

(Northwestern is the only private college in the Big Ten.)

Ohio State President Michael Drake is a close fourth, pulling in $1,034,574.

Here's how other Big Ten presidents and chancellors ranked in pay in fiscal year 2015-17, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education:

  • University of Iowa interim president Jean Robillard: $929,045; current President Bruce Harreld: $590,000
  • Former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon: $860,198
  • Rutgers President Robert Barchi: $783,046
  • University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel: $782,481
  • University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler: $626,450
  • Purdue President Mitch Daniels: $555,829
  • University of Maryland, College Park, President Wallace Loh: $537,236
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Chancellor Rebecca Blank: $517,418
  • Former University of Nebraska, Lincoln, chancellor Harvey Perlman: $368,481
  • Former University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, chancellor Phyllis Wise: $65,278; former interim chancellor Barbara Wilson: $357,684

So how do the Big Ten schools rank compared to the salary their leaders bring in?

In U.S. News and World Report's 2018 Best National University Rankings, the highest-ranked Big Ten university is Northwestern, at No. 11., led by highest-paid Big Ten president Schapiro. It's followed by University of Michigan, at No. 28, and then University of Wisconsin at No. 46. Penn State comes in fourth at No. 52, tied with University of Illinois. Ohio State is sixth at No. 54. Then it's Purdue at No. 56 and University of Maryland at No. 61. University of Minnesota and Rutgers tie at Nos. 69. Bringing in the rear are University of Iowa at No. 78, Michigan State at No. 81, Indiana University at No. 90 and University of Nebraska at No. 124.

Though Barron ranks in the top 10 of highest paid public college leaders and top three of Big Ten leaders, he isn't the highest paid Penn State employee — that distinction goes to Nittany Lions football head coach James Franklin, who in fiscal year 2015-16 had a base salary of $1.4 million.

Robert Harbaugh, chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery, made a base salary of $972,136 in 2015-16, while Peter Dillon, chairman of the Department of Surgery, earned $876,220. The next highest earner in 2015-16 was assistant football coach Bob Shoop, who's since left, who made $844,654, according to Penn State's financial records. Kevin Black, chairman of Orthopaedics/Rehabilitation, rounded out the top five at the university with $835,085. Barron's base salary that year was $800,000.

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