Macalester, St. Thomas presidents on top-100 pay list for 2011 among private schools

Father Dennis Dease
Father Dennis Dease

Two of Minnesota’s private college and university presidents cracked the top 100 highest-paid in the nation in 2011, according to a recent survey released by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Father Dennis Dease, the former president of the University of St. Thomas, ranked 72nd on the list, with a base pay of only $87,845 in 2011 but a total compensation of $779,500 that year, according to the Chronicle. Dease had been president of the University of St. Thomas for 20 years until his retirement earlier this year. Macalester College President Brian Rosenberg, who had held that position for the last eight years, ranked 79th on the list, earning $746,090 in total compensation in 2011 with a base pay of $472,092.

The chronicle reviewed the IRS 990 forms of 500 private colleges and universities across the nation to gather the data.

The survey found the median total compensation for private college/university presidents in 2011 was $410,523, putting Dease and Rosenberg above average pay at private institutions.

In Dease’s case, his total earnings jumped in 2011 because the university made a lump sum payout out of a retirement plan set up for him in 1991, the first year he served as president of St. Thomas.

Brian Roseberg
Brian Rosenberg

“Typically priests or members of any religious order do not get a market rate compensation when they serve in positions like this,” said Doug Hennes, vice president for government and university relations. “The retirement contribution plan was an effort to give him some additional funding.”

Macalester released a statement from Steven Euller, a member of the Macalester College Board of Trustees and chair of its Senior Leadership Review Committee, which included the following:

“Brian Rosenberg is in his 11th year as Macalester’s 16th president. He’s regarded as a “thought leader” on higher education issues and other important topics. … Under his leadership, Macalester exceeded its original comprehensive campaign goal, the largest in the college’s history, raising over $156M. Building projects during Rosenberg’s tenure have included the First and Second phases of the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, MarkimHall and The Leonard Center.

“Macalester has been able to retain one of the top presidents in the country with a package that’s very competitive. Each year, a subcommittee of the board of trustees reviews the president’s performance along with compensation information from similar institutions. Their recommendation regarding compensation for the following year is reviewed and approved by the full board.”

According to the chronicle, 42 private college presidents earned more than $1 million in pay and benefits in 2011, a 17 percent increase compared with the previous year.

At the top of the list is Robert Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago. His total compensation in 2011 was $3.4 million, with a base salary of $918,000. Rounding out the top five are Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun ($3.1 million), Marist College President Dennis Murray ($2.7 million), Columbia University President Lee Bollinger ($2.3 million) and former Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow ($2.2 million).

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