LEWISTON — While an increasing number of leaders at private colleges are earning $1 million or more a year according to a national study, the leaders at Maine’s top three colleges are not among them. 

At Bates College in Lewiston, President Elaine Tuttle Hansen earned nearly $432,000 in 2008-09, the most recent year for which figures are available. At Bowdoin College in Brunswick, President Barry Mills earned just over $470,000. And at Colby College in Waterville, President William D. Adams earned just over $695,000.

Completed by The Chronicle of Higher Education, the annual survey looked at the tax documents of 448 private colleges and compared leadership compensation, including salaries, retirement contributions, bonuses, housing allowances and other perks. It found that 30 presidents earned $1 million or more, up from 23 presidents the year before. Most of the remaining presidents earned between $200,000 and $600,000.

Bowdoin and Colby set compensation in much the same way, with a board of trustees or a board of trustees’ committee considering the president’s experience or performance, the position’s  requirements and how much leaders earn at comparable colleges.

A spokesman for Bates said compensation is a private matter between its Board of Trustees and its president. He said trustees consider a president’s performance and length of time in office, but he declined to say whether Bates also looks at how much other college leaders earn.

“I can say that, as you can see from looking at the chart The Chronicle of Higher Education presents, the compensation for President Hansen is certainly in line with the level of compensation for her counterparts at similar institutions in Maine,” spokesman Roland Adams said. “And I think probably if you look at the same types of institutions throughout New England and the rest of the country, you’d find it pretty much in line.”


Past surveys by The Chronicle of Higher Education have shown that Bates, Bowdoin and Colby presidents typically earn similar amounts, though in 2008-09 the Colby College president’s compensation package was worth $225,000 more than his closest Maine counterpart. A Colby representative said that was because the college hadn’t in the past paid the president deferred compensation — a common type of compensation that’s allocated now and given later — and Colby made up for that in 2008-09.

The Chronicle of Higher Education also looked at the compensation packages of the leaders at more than 250 public colleges and universities, though the education magazine did not rank them.

It showed University of Maine System Chancellor Richard Pattenaude earned just over $280,000 in total compensation in 2008-09. The president of the Maine Community College System, John Fitzsimmons, earned a compensation package worth $220,000. The pay of both leaders has been frozen in recent years, according to university and community college officials.

The chronicle did not look at the leader of every University of Maine or Maine Community College campus. University officials said their seven presidents earn between $130,000 and $230,000 a year in compensation. Community College officials said their seven presidents earn between $147,800 and $165,700. The pay of all university and community college leaders also has been frozen in recent years.

Officials at Maine’s university system said its Board of Trustees sets compensation. It considers a leader’s experience and how much leaders earn at other comparable universities. Officials from the community college system said they also consider a leader’s experience. When a new campus president is hired, the system tries to set a salary that’s in line with the existing pay of current presidents.  

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Maine college presidents’ compensation:

Colby: $695,000

Bowdoin: $470,000

Bates: $432,000

University of Maine System (chancellor): $280,000

Maine Community College System: $220,000

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education

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