More private college presidents top $2M in pay, study finds

BOSTON — A new study finds that eight private colleges paid their presidents more than $2 million in 2014, the most ever to hit that mark.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported the finding Sunday in its annual ranking of pay for the leaders of private colleges. The previous high was five, in 2013.

Topping the list in 2014 was President Jack Varsalona, Wilmington University in Delaware, whose pay totaled $5.4 million. He was followed by the leaders of Washington University in St. Louis and Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

For all three, most of their earnings came as one-time payments that were promised for reaching certain milestones. Such agreements have become common at many schools to deter presidents from leaving.

Some critics say the pay and benefits are excessively lavish.