News and Analysis



Erica Christian | Contributing Photo Editor

Erica Christian | Contributing Photo Editor

University President Steven Knapp makes a lot of money. In fact, he made $1,107,934 in 2011, the latest data available – the 37th most of any private college president in the country.

But a database created last week by the Chronicle of Higher Education provides deeper look into that salary.

– College presidents’ salaries get closer attention these days because of rising tuition and expensive construction projects that have popped up on campuses across the country. But it’s important to note that Knapp’s salary is only 0.11 percent of GW’s about billion-dollar budget. For every $1 million the University spends overall, Knapp gets paid $1,078 – a lower ratio than 88 percent of private colleges.

– Compared to the group of 15 schools GW calls its peers, though, Knapp doesn’t look like quite as much of a bargain using that measure. Ten of those colleges paid presidents less per $1 million in expenditures.

– Knapp’s total compensation was only the 12th highest overall in that group of peer schools. (Former Tufts University president Lawrence Bacow took home the most, with $2.2 million.)

– Faculty also look at Knapp’s salary when measuring up their own pay. Knapp’s $761,496 base pay was 5.2 times the average salary for a full professor (the highest faculty rank). That ratio is wider that 94 percent of private colleges.

– It would take 25.1 students paying GW’s full sticker price to cover the expenses for Knapp’s salary.

The Board of Trustees sets Knapp’s salary and bonus levels each year by gauging how he reaches University goals, like fundraising. His total compensation includes bonuses and his on-campus residence, the F Street House.

Knapp is in the second year of his second five-year contract. His presidential tenure extends through July 31, 2017.

Robert Zimmer of University of Chicago had the highest compensation in the country, earning $3.359 million.

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Graduates from the Class of 2011 will have a 4.8 percent higher starting salary than their peers from the Class of 2010 did, a report released Wednesday found.

Starting salaries for 2011 graduates will average $51,018, compared to the average $48,661 2010 graduates received, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers annual Salary Survey.

The economic pick-up is good news for graduates who were among the hardest hit during the recession.

NACE Executive Director Marilyn Mackes said the increase is a “good indication” that the job market is becoming stronger for new college graduates.

Last year, the Class of 2010 earned a slightly lower starting salary than the class before it, although about 5 percent more graduates were able to find jobs, according to the 2010 NACE report.

Nearly all engineering disciplines saw average salary increases, most prevalently for petroleum engineering majors with an 8.1 percent increase to an $80,849 starting salary.

Most liberal arts disciplines saw an average increase, as well as social sciences. Psychology graduates saw a 23.8 increase.

Jeff Dagley, the coordinator for the GW Career Center, declined to comment on the survey’s results and directed all questions to the media relations department.

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Former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s ranking in the Chronicle of Higher Education as the country’s highest paid former official attracted national media attention Monday.

The New York Times mentioned Trachtenberg’s No. 1 ranking, and noted the president emeritus was one of just three former officials to receive more than $1 million in 2007-2008. The story led on The Washington Post’s local news homepage early Monday morning, with the headline “Ex-president of GWU leads in pay survey.”

The Associated Press also reported on the ranking, the first time the Chronicle has ranked former official pay, and the story was reproduced on The Los Angeles Times Web site and 28 other media outlets, according to a Google News search Monday morning.

Trachtenberg received more than $3.6 million in compensation from the University, The Hatchet reported in June. The $3.6 million figure was a “one-time lump sum payment” from the University when Trachtenberg retired in 2007, after serving as president for nearly two decades, said Assistant Vice President for Communications Sarah Baldassaro, in an article in Monday’s paper.

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