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The Top Ten Highest Paid University Presidents in the U.S.


Education is perhaps the most important commodity that anyone can invest in, and it is rewarding on many levels. To begin with, it is socially and spiritually convenient and rewarding to be literate. What’s more, education makes it easier to adopt a career and make a living. On another level, however, the custodians of higher education in the U.S., in particular, are paid handsomely for their services. The people responsible for furthering education in the U.S. deserve every good thing that comes their way. Here is a look at the top ten highest paid university presidents in the U.S.

10. David J. Skorton ($1,618,328)

David J. Skorton is the 12th president of Cornell University and a former president of the University of Iowa. He is also a physician; he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Northwestern University in 1970 and later with an M.D. in 1974. He also attended UCLA where he completed his medical residency and fellowship in cardiology. Skorton’s major accomplishments during his tenure have been increased consultation, accessibility, and compassion. He has also introduced a lot of educational reforms and he is still working on expanding the institution.

9. James F. Jones, Jr. ($1,661,794)

James F. Jones, Jr. was the 21st president of Trinity College, but he retired on 30 June, 2014. As the president, he was popular for his advocacy on equality; to this end, he is credited with assembling the most dynamic leadership team in the institution’s history. He was also an ardent professor, and he ensured that he taught at least one course every year during his entire tenure.

8. Robert J. Zimmer ($2,051,089)

Robert J. Zimmer is an accomplished mathematician and the 13th president of the University of Chicago since 2006. He attended Harvard University where he graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1971 and a Ph.D. in 1975. As a mathematician, he specializes in geometry and in particular, differential geometry. As the president of the University of Chicago, Robert J. Zimmer has mostly focused on obtaining funding for his students as well as expanding the institution. Some of his accomplishments include opening up centers for learning in Beijing and Delhi.

7. Robert Fisher ($2,120,091)

Robert Fisher is the current president of the Belmont University, and is considered one of the most notable figures in Nashville. In fact, he was named the ‘Nashvillian of the Year’ in 2010 and ‘Tennessean of the Year’ in 2008. Since he was chosen as the University’s president, Robert Fisher has achieved significant success in his bid to expand the institution. To this end, he has overseen the creation of several undergraduate majors in music therapy, songwriting, publishing, motion pictures, and public relations, among others. Consequently, the university’s enrollment has more than doubled to reach 7,700 by the fall of 2016.

6. Morton O. Schapiro ($2,352,578)

Morton O. Schapiro is the 16th president of Northwestern University, and has a reputation for being one of the leading authorities in the field of economics of higher education. He studied economics at Hofstra University where he graduated with a B.S. in Economics in 1975, and later graduated with a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1979. As the president of Northwestern University, Morton O. Schapiro has been committed to easing the financial burden on the institution’s students. He has also authored many articles and books advocating for affordable higher education; some of his books include Keeping College Affordable: Government and Educational Opportunity.

5. Lee C. Bollinger ($2,962,708)

Born on April 30, 1946, Lee C. Bollinger has been the president of Columbia University since 2002; his nickname in the university is ‘PrezBo’. He was also the chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for 2012, and a legal scholar for freedom of speech and the First Amendment. As the president of Columbia University, Bollinger has focused his efforts on expanding the institution’s international scope by inviting world leaders to give speeches and lectures. However, he has also come under great criticism for being neutral about controversies regarding MEALAC (Middle East Languages and Cultures), and also placing the department on receivership.

4. Amy Gutmann ($2,962,708)

Amy Gutmann is an award-winning political theorist, and the eighth president of the University of Pennsylvania. She was born on November 19, 1949 in Brooklyn, New York just 15 years after her father fled Nazi Germany in 1934. Amy Gutmann received an A.B. magna cum laude from Radcliffe College in 1971, a M.Sc. in in Political Science from the London School of Economics in 1972, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University in 1976. She was chosen as the president of University of Pennsylvania in 2004, and she has been instrumental in expansionary projects in a bid to make the institution a global authority in higher education.

3. R. Gerald Turner ($3,354,128)

Turner was born in New Boston, Texas on November 25, 1945. He graduated from Abilene Christian University with a B.S. in Psychology in 1968, and later joined the University of Texas at Austin, from which he acquired his M.A and Ph.D. Turner’s career in teaching began in 1975 at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, where he worked as a professor. He also served at the University of Oklahoma as the Vice President between 1979 and 1984, and later at the University of Mississippi as the chancellor between 1984 and 1995. He is currently the president of Southern Methodist University, and he is credited with raising billions of dollars for the institution.

2. Mark S. Wrighton ($4,185,866)

Mark S. Wrighton is the 14th chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis, and one of the most accomplished professors in the U.S. He was born on June 11, 1949 in Jackson, Florida. He has always had an interest in Chemistry, and he forewent a course in Mathematics and Government to study Chemistry at Florida State University; he not only graduated with honors but also won the Monsanto Chemistry Award for his research. His career as a professor began in 1972 when he joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His run at MIT was so impressive that he was solicited as the chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis in 1995. He is also the chairman of the Association of American Universities, and was considered for candidacy for the Harvard University presidency.

1. Jack P. Varsalona ($5,499,405)

Jack P. Varsalona is currently the 3rd president of Wilmington University, and the highest paid university president in the U.S. He was born on October 29, 1948 in Trenton, New Jersey. Much of his life has been spent at the Wilmington University as it is where he received his undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. His teaching career began at Ursuline Academy private school in 1975. However, the highlight of his career came in 2005 when he was named the 3rd president of the Wilmington University, then designated a college. During Varsalona’s tenure, Wilmington University has transitioned from being a college, more-than-doubled its intake, and set up several campuses and partnerships throughout Delaware.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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