Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Kenneth Kuttner


College, Presidents, Liberal arts, Pay, Compensation


This paper uses panel data on the salaries and benefits of liberal arts college presidents during the period 2001-02 to 2003-04 to understand what presidents are rewarded for. We try and develop a basic framework in which to understand the president's role in the institution, and attempt to explain what some claim is a combination of high wages and relatively weak pay for performance.

The rising income inequality in America has been the subject of much heated debate in the recent past. 'Excessive' executive pay has been a recurrent theme during 2007 so far, with the Senate gearing up to address this imbalance by trying to pass measures such as limiting income tax deductions companies can claim for executives leaving the firm during the year. President Bush also singled out record levels of executive compensation as a major issue in his 'State of the Economy' speech in January.

A similar story emerges when we examine the executive compensation at universities and colleges across America. While the paychecks that executives in higher education receive are not as stunning as those in the corporate world, they are hefty in their own right, especially when compared with the salaries that faculty at their institutes command. This rise in pay has been especially great in public institutions, with the number of presidents making half a million dollars or more almost doubling between 2003-04 and 2004-05. Moreover, schools with smaller budgets or less willingness to pay often lose their presidents to other universities that pay significantly more; the case in point being three major state universities in Iowa that between them have lost 8 presidents in the last 18 years to institutions that paid significantly more.

Included in

Economics Commons