Women may make up only 26% of college presidents, but we lead the list of the highest paid. President Shirley Ann Jackson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ranked the highest paid president of a private college. In 2012, the latest year federal tax documents with this information are currently available, she pulled in a whopping $7,143,312, according to The New York Times. Her total compensation was nearly twice that of the second highest paid president.
Arthur Gajarsa, chairman of the Rensselaer board of trustees, says the vast chunk of Dr. Jackson’s earnings is a result of a $5.9 million retention incentive set aside over the last 10 years. She was appointed president in 1999 and received a base salary of $945,000. Gajarsa claims, “She’s worth what we paid, because she has done the job magnificently, and taken the university to a different level,” as reported by The New York Times. The board has awarded President Jackson an additional 10-year deferred compensation package, with a proposal close to her previous package, in efforts to secure her for another decade. Of nearly 500 private colleges, “36 of the presidents earned $1 million or more in 2012, and 162 were paid more than $500,000.” The median pay was slightly shy of $400,000.
According to RPI’s profile of their president, Dr. Jackson is a theoretical physicist and has had a distinguished career inclusive of senior leadership positions in academia, government, industry, and research. She has an S.B. in Physics and a Ph.D. in Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics, both degrees from MIT. She marks history as the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate of any discipline from MIT, and the first African-American woman to serve as President at a top-ranked research university.
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