Although Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee is paid a hefty salary, Gee’s salary was only the third highest in the country for public university presidents for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
Gee, who earned slightly less than $1.9 million as his total compensation, fell from the top spot to No. 3 behind Pennsylvania State University’s Graham Spanier and Auburn University’s Jay Gogue, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s latest list of public universities’ presidential salaries.
Gee’s base pay of $830,439 was the highest on the list. His total compensation for the year, though, was less than last year’s $2.04 million, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Spanier’s salary of about $2.9 million can be largely credited to a $1.23 million severance package he received. Spanier was fired in November 2011 in the midst of a scandal surrounding the football program.
Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, was convicted last June on 45 counts of sexual abuse occurring from 1994 to 2009 against 10 boys. Penn State officials were allegedly involved in concealing reports during that time period about what Sandusky was doing.
Gogue has been Auburn’s president since July 2007, longer than Gee, who has been at OSU since October 2007. Gee was also OSU’s president from 1990-1997. Gogue’s jump to No. 2 on this year’s list was largely because he collected a five year payout of deferred salary, making his total 2011-2012 salary approximately $2.5 million.
Only the top four presidents on the list made more than $1 million.
Aaron Lee, a second-year in geographic information science at OSU, said he thinks Gee’s pay is disproportionate compared to his colleagues.
“Even though he’s at the top, his companions right below him are getting a lot less than what he earns,” Lee said.
For the 2011 fiscal year, Gee was one of three public university presidents to earn more than $1 million. None of the highest-paid presidents’ total compensations reached $2 million that year.
Gee was the first public university president to make more than $1 million in 2007.
Some OSU students said it’s hard for them to tell if Gee is being paid fairly or not.
“It’s really cool what he’s doing for education I think, so I think I lean toward the ‘he’s not overpaid’ side,” said Nicole Presley, a fifth-year in Spanish. “(But) I think if (university officials) really wanted to make education more feasible for more people, they might be more willing to sacrifice a little bit of their money because they are obviously pretty well off.”
OSU’s tuition increased 8.3 percent for in-state students and 5.7 percent for out-of-state students for the 2011-2012 academic year.
Other students said what Gee is paid isn’t what affects them on a day-to-day basis.
“What affects me much more is the quality of our teachers and what we’re doing to be competitive and to make our graduates competitive,” said Chris Kiriakou, a third-year in economics.
Gee’s office did not provide comment.