Higher education in the United States is big business. Last week, the Chronicle of Higher Education released its annual report on what the presidents of public two- and four-year colleges were paid in salary and perks during the 2008-09 academic year.
It shows that while some school leaders understand the depth of today's recession, others still don't get it. Public college presidents were paid 2.3 percent more last year than in the previous year. That's down from the 7.6 percent increase they got in 2007-08.
The survey also shows that a third of the college presidents surveyed didn't get a raise last year, and one in 10 received less total compensation than he or she had the year before. Of course, that means two-thirds got raises despite a terrible economy.
President Graham B. Spanier of Penn State University was Pennsylvania's highest-paid public university head in the survey at $642,760 total compensation, including $620,000 in salary. University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg made $600,045, including a $460,000 salary. Neither received a raise this year.
Holding the line on pay and giving some of it back in tough times should be commended. Perhaps the two-thirds of public college presidents who don't understand that need to go back to school.