Georgia’s public university presidents to get raises, some more than others

Four leaders slated to approach or top $1 million for 2023-2024 school year
The highest-paid presidents in the University System of Georgia (clockwise from top left): Jere Morehead, University of Georgia; M. Brian Blake, Georgia State University; Brooks Keel, Augusta University; and Ángel Cabrera, Georgia Tech. (AJC file)

Credit: AJC file

Credit: AJC file

The highest-paid presidents in the University System of Georgia (clockwise from top left): Jere Morehead, University of Georgia; M. Brian Blake, Georgia State University; Brooks Keel, Augusta University; and Ángel Cabrera, Georgia Tech. (AJC file)

Many presidents leading Georgia’s 26 public universities will earn $2,000 more next school year, but a few leaders are in line to receive much bigger boosts.

A review by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that several presidents — including Ángel Cabrera at Georgia Tech, Jere Morehead at the University of Georgia and Neal Weaver at Georgia Southwestern State University — are set to receive many times more than the state’s cost-of-living raise for the upcoming year.

Some leaders were singled out for additional pay “to meet market rates,” according to the University System of Georgia. The Georgia Board of Regents recently approved compensation amounts for the leaders.

The Georgia Board of Regents recently approved pay levels for the presidents of the state’s 26 public universities.

Lawmakers approved a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 that includes $2,000 raises for most state workers, including public university employees. The spending plan also cut $66 million from the University System’s $3.1 billion in state funding, a reduction Chancellor Sonny Perdue called “incredibly disappointing” and said would have a “significant impact” on schools.

Cabrera, hired at Georgia Tech in 2019, is poised to receive $252,000 more in total compensation, according to numbers provided by the University System. That includes the $2,000 cost-of-living raise approved by the state and an additional $250,000 in deferred pay to be covered with private dollars from the Georgia Tech Foundation so long as Cabrera hits certain unstated goals over the next five years.

The University System referred questions about Cabrera’s incentive pay, including specifics on the targets he must meet, to the foundation. A Georgia Tech spokesman declined to comment.

The increase will bring Cabrera’s total compensation next year to $1,232,000. With the boost, he’ll surpass Brooks Keel at Augusta University as the highest-paid public university president in Georgia. Keel will receive a standard $2,000 raise to lift his total compensation next year to $1,206,301.

Total compensation includes base salary, deferred pay and allowances.

Several other presidents will receive way more than the $2,000 cost-of-living raise approved by the state.

Morehead, who has led UGA since 2013, is about to become the longest-serving president among current University System leaders. Next year, he’ll earn $57,170 more, bumping his total compensation to $973,900.

At Georgia Southwestern in Americus, Weaver will receive $24,275 more, for a total compensation of $310,928. And at Georgia Highlands College, Mike Hobbs, who started a year ago, will see his compensation increase by more than $5,400 to $251,658.

The University System said the additional pay for certain presidents “reflects a competitive market for leaders in higher education.”

“We compete for the best, and we want to keep them. Compensation plans have been designed to reflect presidents’ responsibilities as chief officers at their respective institutions and be comparable with leaders of competitive institutions of similar size, mission and impact,” it said in a statement to the AJC.

There are vast differences in how much public college presidents get paid nationally. A 2022 report by The Chronicle of Higher Education found total pay ranged from nearly $2.3 million to roughly $200,000 annually for nearly 200 executives at public doctoral universities.

Presidents of the state’s four research universities — Augusta, Georgia Tech, UGA, and Georgia State University — will continue to earn significantly more than their counterparts at regional or smaller schools.

M. Brian Blake, who has led Georgia State for two years, will receive a total compensation of $957,000 next year.

He’s among about a dozen college presidents who will receive the standard $2,000 raise.

The total compensation for presidents of the 22 remaining schools will range from $492,000 at Kennesaw State and Georgia Southern universities to $225,200 at South Georgia State College.


Presidents’ pay

The Georgia Board of Regents recently approved pay levels for the presidents of the state’s 26 public universities. Here is the total compensation, which includes salary, deferred pay and allowances, for the highest-paid presidents, effective July 1.

Ángel Cabrera, Georgia Tech: $1,232,000

Brooks Keel, Augusta University: $1,206,301

Jere Morehead, University of Georgia: $973,900

M. Brian Blake, Georgia State University: $957,000

Kathy Schwaig, Kennesaw State University: $492,000

Kyle Marrero, Georgia Southern University: $492,000

Source: University System of Georgia

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Credit: Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com

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