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Chancellor search: How does KU's CEO salary compare with other universities?

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As the Kansas Board of Regents searches for a new chancellor to lead the University of Kansas, we’ll be publishing a number of related stories along the way. Today I’m breaking down how KU’s current chancellor salary compares with the university’s peers.

Of course we won’t know the new chancellor’s salary until that person has negotiated and been hired, expected in time to start by July 1, 2017. But if the pay is near what Bernadette Gray-Little’s has been — approximately $500,000 in total compensation — it falls in the lower-middle to lower end of two peer packs.

Pack No. 1 is the 10 peer universities named in KU’s strategic plan, Bold Aspirations. Here’s what it says about these universities, most of which also have medical schools: “To gauge our progress toward our vision as a top-tier public international research university, we will compare ourselves on a regular basis with a peer group of 10 public universities. Some of the universities are roughly comparable to KU, and others are in the top tier that we aspire to join. All the universities, like KU, are members of the prestigious Association of American Universities.”

Pack No. 2 is the Big 12 athletic conference. Some Big 12 schools are more comparable in size and scope to KU than others, and a couple are private, but they’re all in the same league sports-wise and in the Midwest region (except outlier West Virginia University).

Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little speaks before President Barack Obama delivers a speech Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, to a crowd gathered inside the Anschutz Sports Pavilion at KU.

Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little speaks before President Barack Obama delivers a speech Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, to a crowd gathered inside the Anschutz Sports Pavilion at KU. by Richard Gwin

These numbers come from The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Executive Compensation at Private and Public Colleges database, last updated in summer 2016 with data from 2014-15. Unless otherwise noted, all salaries below were total compensation for the 2014-15 academic year. CEO’s names are followed by the year they started at their respective universities.


Bold Aspirations peer universities

Michigan State University — $850,000 (Lou Anna K. Simon, 2005)

Indiana University — $680,332 (Michael A. McRobbie, 2007)

University at Buffalo, The State University of New York — $657,700 (Satish K. Tripathi, 2011)

University of Florida — $564,553* (J. Bernard Machen, 2003-2014)

Machen’s compensation is for 2013-14, his last full year. In 2014-15 he was paid $457,267 for a partial year. In 2014-15 new president W. Kent Fuchs was paid $505,000 for a partial year.

University of Oregon — $544,044* (Michael R. Gottfredson, 2012-2014)

Gottfredson’s compensation is for 2013-14, his last full year. In 2014-15 he was paid $1.2 million for a partial year, including $940,000 in severance pay. In 2014-15 interim president Scott L. Coltrane was paid $394,686 for a partial year.

University of Iowa — $525,828 (Sally K. Mason, 2007-2015)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — $520,000 (Carol L. Folt, 2013)

University of Virginia — $509,700 (Teresa A. Sullivan, 2010)

University of Kansas — $500,040 (Bernadette Gray-Little, 2009)

University of Colorado at Boulder — $431,261 (Philip DiStefano, 2009)

University of Missouri-Columbia — $397,833 (R. Bowen Loftin, 2014-2015)


Big 12 universities

Texas Christian University — $1,364,696 (Victor J. Boschini Jr., 2003)

Iowa State University — $820,461 (Steven Leath, 2012)

Baylor University — $820,183 (Kenneth W. Starr, 2010)

West Virginia University — $763,175 (E. Gordon Gee, 2013)

University of Texas — $628,190* (William C. Powers Jr., 2006-2015)

Powers’ compensation is for 2012-13, the last full year provided for him. In 2014-15 he was paid $516,831 for a partial year. In 2014-15 Gregory L. Fenves was paid $185,033 for a partial year.

Texas Tech University system — $600,000 (Robert L. Duncan, 2014)

University of Kansas — $500,040 (Bernadette Gray-Little, 2009)

Kansas State University — $466,951 (Kirk H. Schulz, 2009)

University of Oklahoma — $442,203 (David L. Boren, 1994)

Oklahoma State University — $425,004 (V. Burns Hargis, 2008)

Bernadette Gray-Little

Bernadette Gray-Little


— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.

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