Georgia Tech president Bud Peterson. Taylor Carpenter/AJC

Georgia college presidents not on list of 30 highest paid in U.S.

Average total compensation for the presidents of America’s public colleges rose about 5 percent in 2016 over the previous year, according to an analysis by the Chronicle of Higher Education released this week.

In Georgia, Georgia Tech president Bud Peterson was the top-paid public college president. He made more than $720,000 in 2016, according to the Chronicle.

The way the University System of Georgia Board of Regents calculates presidents’ pay is different from the Chronicle’s, however.

By the Regents’ calculations, Peterson will earn $1,135,710 this coming year. Georgia State University president Mark Becker is the only other president with a seven-figure total compensation package at $1,094,952. University of Georgia president Jere Morehead’s total compensation is $860,844.

Arizona State University president Michael Crow is the best-paid public college president nationally, earning more than $1.5 million in 2016according to the Chronicle. No Georgia public college president ranked among the 30 best-paid nationally, by the Chronicle’s ranking.

“The compensation plans for USG presidents reflect the confidence the Board of Regents has in its leaders and the Board’s intention to attract and retain talent,” University System of Georgia spokesman Charles Sutlive said in a written statement.

Earlier this year, the Regents gave the presidents of Georgia’s public colleges and universities raises, pushing current compensation for Peterson and Becker even further over the $1 million mark, funded by a mix of state and university foundation funds.

Most of the Georgia presidents received either a 3 percent or 4 percent raise, coming on top of similar raises the previous year.

For most presidents, the total compensation includes housing allowances of nearly $20,000, car allowances and deferred compensation, which is an increasingly important part of higher education leaders’ paychecks.

Last year, the Chronicle ranked Becker as the fifth highest-compensated public college leader nationally, based on 2015 data, in large part because of a $500,000 retention bonus. Becker, Peterson, Morehead are eligible for similar deferred compensation payments worth hundreds of thousands in coming years.

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