University of Iowa president in top quarter of public higher education pay

Bruce Harreld made $609,996 in 2016-17

University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld addresses the Board of Regents tuition task force this past August. (Jim Slos
University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld addresses the Board of Regents tuition task force this past August. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

A new report listing America’s highest paid university and college executives has University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld ranking in the top quarter among public university and system leaders.

Harreld, hired in 2015 amid protests over his lack of academic administrative experience, reported total compensation at $609,996 in the 2016-2017 term, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s most recent annual executive compensation report made public Monday.

That puts him at No. 63 of 251 public university and system executives — and dropping him one spot from his Nov. 62 rank last year.

The total includes his $590,000 base salary and $19,996 in non-taxable compensation for items such as health and medical benefits, life insurance, housing, and personal legal and financial services.

The state reported spending $19,727 in travel expenses on Harreld that year.

His total compensation for the budget year that ended June 30 was $590,000, plus $15,255 in travel expenses, according to the most recent UI data.

Harreld’s pay — and other UI executive compensation — has become a talking point among campus critics as the university grapples with state funding cuts that have administrators closing centers, curtailing some scholarships, freezing faculty pay and increasing tuition.

Harreld hasn’t received a raise since he started the job, in one case making a point of publicly requesting status quo pay following an annual review.

His five-year contract comes with $200,000 annual deferred compensation installments, meaning he’ll receive a $1 million payout in 2020 on top of his base salary.

When comparing Harreld’s pay to other executives in the Big Ten Conference, many earn more — such as those atop Ohio State, Michigan State, and Penn State universities, along with the universities of Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana and Illinois.

The 2016-2017 top earner among public institutions was University of Louisville President James Ramsey, who amassed compensation worth $4.3 million. Most of that came through a deferred compensation payout and severance pay.

Past Auburn University President Jay Gogue, whom former Iowa State University President Steven Leath replaced in June 2017, came in at No. 2 with compensation worth $1.8 million.

University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook, hired in late 2016, wasn’t included on the list but would have ranked No. 176 with his $357,110 base pay — behind University of Albany Interim President James Stellar, who made $357,242.

The Board of Regents last month approved Nook’s first deferred compensation agreement while at UNI that could net $200,000 in 2020.

Because former ISU President Leath left in May 2017 to take over at the helm of Auburn University, ISU salary data is split between him and Interim ISU President Ben Allen.

Iowa State paid Leath $507,186 in the 2016-17 budget year, according to the Chronicle, and Allen $77,856 that year. Leath, according to the data, started at Auburn on June 19, 2017, and made $208,333 in the weeks before the end of the fiscal year June 30.

The Regents in October hired former Dean of its College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Wendy Wintersteen to succeed Leath. She started Nov. 20 with a five-year contract promising to increase her starting base pay of $525,000 to $550,000 in the second year and $590,000 in the third year. That comes with a deferred compensation package worth $475,000 scheduled to pay out after three years.

ISU spokeswoman Annette Hacker said Wintersteen has opted to donate her anniversary raise of $50,000 to the ISU Foundation for student completion grants, student entrepreneurship initiatives and international study-abroad experiences.

Last year’s ranking in the Chronicle had former UI Vice President for Medical Affairs Jean Robillard in the top 10 at No. 9 for earning $929,045 in the 2015-16 term. That included $741,260 in base pay and a $187,785 bonus tied to hospital performance.

He served as interim UI president for part of 2015.

Some of Iowa’s top-earning private college heads in 2015, the most recent data the Chronicle has, include Grinnell College Raynard Kington at $623,430; former Drake University President David Maxwell, who made $747,113 in 2014 and $523,362 in 2015 before leaving; Cornell College President Jonathan Brand at $314,270; and Coe College President David McInally at $332,190.

Both the Cornell and Coe presidents took pay cuts in 2015, with Brand reporting a salary of $349,325 in 2014 and McInally reporting $343,850 in 2014.

l Comments: (319) 339-3158;