CEO salaries at Missouri's public universities, colleges range from $180K-$485K



Artez Irvin

As Lincoln University searches for a new president, compensation likely will be a major negotiation issue between the school's curators and their final choice.

Former President Kevin Rome was paid a base salary of $240,000 in the 2016-17 state business year - his fourth and last year at Lincoln. Rome left Jefferson City in June and began working July 1 as the new president of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Based on information from the Missouri Department of Higher Education's June 2017 "President's and Chancellor's Compensation Survey," Rome's 2016-17 base pay was the fourth-lowest among Missouri's four-year public college and university presidents and chancellors.

When other benefits - such as retirement, insurance, a vehicle, deferred compensation and an annuity - were added, Rome's total compensation was $314,796 - third-lowest among the college and university chief executives.

But all of the people on the list move up one spot when State Technical College President Shawn Strong is added to the mix.

His base salary was $180,000 and total compensation was $241,827 in 2016-17, his first year at State Tech - both lowest among Missouri's public college chief executives.

Unlike Missouri's community colleges - which serve a defined region and get some state support as well as funding from a local property tax base - the Linn-based two-year technical school has a statewide mission and gets its funding like the four-year schools, with a combination of state support, tuition and fees, and outside contributions.

At a nearly $5.86 million appropriation last year - before withholdings - State Tech's state budget was a little more than half of the almost $10.32 million lawmakers budgeted for Harris-Stowe State University - the smallest state appropriation lawmakers made among Missouri's four-year schools.

The Higher Education Department's 2017 Compensation Survey shows actual expenditures for the 2015-16 school year and the estimated expenses for the 2016-17 business year that ended June 30 - after the report was issued.

The comparisons used in this article are based on those 2016-17 estimated numbers and don't reflect any raises the chief executives may have received for the current 2017-18 school year.

Five of the six highest base salaries and total compensation packages last year belonged to the University of Missouri System president and the chancellors at the university's four campuses - with the highest honors going to now former-Interim Chancellor Henry (Hank) Foley in Columbia.

His base pay last year was listed as $459,000, and his total compensation came in at $557,284.

Second on the list is new University of Missouri System President Mun Choi, whose salary was set at $441,667 a year and total compensation package was set at $527,559.

However, he didn't start in the job until March 1, 2017, so he hasn't collected either of those totals yet.

Still, Choi's salary and total compensation were set to be higher than the MU System paid Interim President Mike Middleton for 2016-17 - with a base pay set at $119,386 and a total compensation package of $231,011.

But Middleton held the MU System's interim post for more than 15 months, and in the 2015-16 year, he was paid $477,544, with a total package of $581,014 - more than Choi's current salary and total compensation.

Middleton now is Lincoln's interim president, earning $240,000 a year - the same as Rome earned last year. School officials said his benefits package was organized differently from Rome's, though, and the total calculations weren't available for this story.

Going into the current school year, only University of Missouri, St. Louis, Chancellor Thomas George still was on the job among the University of Missouri's four campuses.

Alexander Cartright is the new chancellor at the Columbia campus, earning a base pay of $485,000 and a total compensation that still was being calculated, including insurance, a $15,000 vehicle allowance and retirement benefits.

Christopher G. Maples is the new interim chancellor at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, with a $275,000 base pay and $287,000 benefits package.

And Barbara Bichelmeyer is the new interim chancellor at UM, Kansas City, earning $350,000 plus a $6,151.08 car allowance, for a $356,151 total compensation.

Salary decisions involving individual school presidents aren't based solely on comparisons with the pay and compensation packages of other Missouri-based schools. Other variables include a president's or chancellor's previous experience, salaries paid at other schools around the country, and how much the school can afford.


NWA Media/DAVID GOTTSCHALK - 2/17/14 - University of Arkansas exercise science major Lemuel Brown (center) moves to a line for a barbeque sandwich after viewing a 12 minute video addressing "myths and misinformation" about food and food supply on the campus in Fayetteville Monday Feb. 17, 2014. The movie and lunch were part of the "Chew on This" tour, sponsored by the Poultry Science Club in the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, which visited the campus and offered information about food production and the nation's food industry. The tour also provided a free lunch.