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Roosevelt University president's pay ranks No. 5 nationally

The president of financially challenged Roosevelt University ranked No. 5 nationwide in an annual pay survey published Monday of private colleges and universities, taking in $1.14 million more than the second highest-paid president of a similar institution and making the equivalent of 67.9 students paying full sticker-price tuition.

Charles R. Middleton, who is slated to retire in June after having presided over tuition increases, a reduction in the university’s Schaumburg campus operations and pay freezes for certain employees, received base pay of $465,928 in 2012 — based on the latest data available — and made $1.76 million in total compensation that same year, according to data compiled by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Middleton’s base salary, which was 4.5 times the average salary of full-time professors at Roosevelt, represented a $44,796 increase from 2011, the survey showed.

The Chronicle’s survey showed that the 2012 median pay was $404,430 for presidents among similar private colleges and universities it surveyed. To determine “similar institutions,” the Chronicle analyzed each college and university’s admissions rate, endowment value, total expenditures and percent of expenditures spent on instruction, as well as enrollment, median SAT score, percent of Pell Grant recipients, percent of graduate students and percent of undergraduates 25 or older.

Among the 500 private institutions surveyed, four presidents received higher total compensation than did Roosevelt’s Middleton: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, N.Y.) President Shirley Ann Jackson made $7.1 million; Quinnipiac University (Hamden, Conn.) President John Lahey, $3.8 million; Columbia University (New York) President Lee Bollinger, $3.4 million, and University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) President Amy Gutmann, $2.5 million, according to the Chronicle survey. In all, 36 private-college presidents were paid more than $1 million in 2012, according to the survey.

Though Middleton’s total compensation skyrocketed by 242.4 percent from 2011, according to the Chronicle’s data, Roosevelt University Board Chairman James J. Mitchell III said in a statement Monday that “approximately two-thirds of (Middleton’s) 2012 earned compensation was from bonus compensation that had been deferred over the previous 10 years, going back to when Middleton was appointed president in 2002.”

“His [Middleton’s] compensation package, like that of many other university presidents, was structured so that Roosevelt could retain his knowledge and experience and he could be rewarded for meeting performance goals,” Mitchell said in the statement.

Mitchell said Middleton’s retirement next year “will mean a large loss to our university and to the many successful civic efforts he has led for Roosevelt.”

Mitchell credited Middleton with changing Roosevelt from a university that primarily served “older, part-time students to one where the majority of undergraduate students are traditional age and full-time.”

“Under [Middleton’s] leadership, Roosevelt has increased the number of full-time faculty by 23 percent; opened the 32-story Wabash building, the nation’s second-tallest academic facility; and created a College of Pharmacy, Roosevelt’s first new college in 40 years and the only three-year PharmD program in the Midwest,” Mitchell said in the statement.

University spokesman Tom Karow said Roosevelt’s Fall 2014 semester boasted the largest freshman class and the largest full-time headcount in the university’s history. The increases are due partly to the revival of men’s sports, the introduction of women’s intramural sports, the opening of the Wabash building and the addition of the Goodman Center field house, the university reported on Oct. 31. The freshman class totaled 600 students, a 40 percent jump from the previous fall, and the university had 4,073 full-time students, a 6 percent increase from the 2013 Fall semester, the university statement said.

The university’s undergraduate enrollment totaled 3,658, according to the latest numbers available on the website.

“Also, Roosevelt’s Honors students, international students and veterans all had double-digit enrollment increases compared to last year,” Karow said. “In addition, we saw a 7 percent increase in first-year freshman retention from fall 2013 to fall 2014.”

The progress has come amid a host of challenges, including what Fitch ratings agency called in a report issued in March an unbalanced fiscal 2014 budget, heavy reliance on student-generated revenues and a “very high” debt load.

In August 2011, for example, Roosevelt University had to close a $7.8-million budget hole created by an unexpectedly sharp drop in the number of part-time students and optimistic budgeting based on three previous years of record-setting freshmen classes.

At that time, the university cut part-time adjunct faculty; excised $3 million in operating costs; eliminated 235 historically low-enrollment, non-essential classes, and reduced for one year its contribution to full-time staff and faculty’s retirement plans to 4 percent from 12 percent for the first $40,000.

Tuition for undergraduate students, excluding those in the performing arts, has increased by 16.9 percent since the 2010-2011 academic year, to $26,900 annually for academic year 2014-15 from $23,000 in 2010-2011, according to information Roosevelt provided.

The Chronicle survey showed just the opposite result for the University of Chicago, where President Robert Zimmer’s base pay fell from $918,000 in 2011 to $916,620 in 2012, and whose total compensation dropped from $3.4 million in 2011 to $1.36 million in 2012, according to the Chronicle survey.

The decline occurred because Zimmer took one-time deferred compensation in 2011 but did not do so in 2012, a university spokesman said. In 2011, about 40 percent of Zimmer’s total earnings came from deferred compensation, which he collected last year. Zimmer’s total compensation in 2012 put him at the No. 11 ranking, down from No. 1 in 2011.

The Chronicle survey’s methodology changed from 2012 to 2011. The 2012 figures omit compensation set aside for future years but not actually paid out. In previous years, the Chronicle included the set-aside payments in its totals.