Wilm. University's president makes $1M club again

A new study by the Chronicle of Higher Education shows Wilmington University's president wasn't hurt by the recession.

WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.

Dr. Jack Varsalona rounds out the top 10 list of highest paid leaders of private colleges in 2010. Jack Stripling, senior reporter, at the Chronicle of Higher Education, says this is quite a bump.

"He has moved up a fair amount since last year when I want to say he was in the top 20," says Stripling.

Varsalona raked in more than $1.5 million a year, making him the highest paid private school academic chief in the region.

Stripling says deferred compensation is a big part of that salary bump.

"This is money that the college is setting aside for him each year that they're saying, 'At a given point, we're going to allow him to touch;" the advantage for the president there is that that money is allowed to grow tax-free until such time as he tries to touch it," explains Stripling.

Varsalona joins three dozen other private school presidents making more than $1 million bucks. But are they making too much? The people who employ these presidents don't think so. Stripling says they claim they're getting a great return on their investment.

"These are the individuals who are at the top of the fundraising pyramid, so it's not uncommon to see a president make $2 million in a year, but bring in a lot more than that in money from private gifts," he says.

But private school presidents' pay has come under increased scrutiny. Institutions do face an IRS audit if they're found there are too many red flags surrounding expenses.

The average salary for these leaders is $397,000 with compensation rising three percent from 2009.

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