A football coach, a dermatologist, an infertility specialist -- these are among some of the most highly compensated private college employees in the country, according to a new report released today.
While the average college professor makes a salary many would consider modest, the top 10 most highly compensated employees, according to the "Chronicle of Higher Education," brought in a combined $32 million in the 2007 fiscal year.
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That includes more than $4.4 million for University of Southern California football coach Pete Carroll and more than $4.3 million for Columbia University clinical professor of dermatology David Silvers, who rank No. 1 and 2 on the Chronicle's list. The list ranks employees other than chief executives or presidents.
Carroll has built USC into a football powerhouse, winning two national championships in the last six years. Silvers is a skin cancer specialist who heads the dermatopathology lab at Columbia's Medical Center.
"We've actually been arguing for some time that the wide disparity … in faculty salaries is a problem," said John Curtis, director of research and public policy for the American Association of University Professors.
While the Washington D.C.-based Chronicle will not take a stance on the merits of the multi-million salary and benefits packages these private college employees are getting, Chronicle editor Jeffrey Selingo told ABCNews.com that the report reflects the trends that higher education is continuing to be run more like a business.
"Colleges are under a lot of pressure right now to control costs," Selingo said.
But at the same time, administrators know the best way to attract everything from federal grants, research dollars, medical patients and -- oh yeah -- students, is to shell out enough money to recruit the best in their field.
Selingo said there has been a longstanding myth when it comes to higher education that the college and university presidents were the highest paid. According to the Chronicle's most recent report on president compensation, released in November, former Vanderbilt University President E. Gordon Gee topped the list at just over $2 million.
That's less than half of what Carroll brought in the same year and a half-million less than Harry Jacobson, the most highly compensated Vanderbilt employee. Jacobson, the university's vice chancellor for health affairs, ranked No. 7 on the Chronicle's report with more than $2.5 million.
These numbers aren't straight salaries. They include benefits and other forms of income, including deferred compensation and bonuses. The rankings were based on figures taken from the federal tax filings of more than 4,000 employees at nearly 600 private colleges and universities.
Selingo said it's been five or six years since the Chronicle did such a study on employees. The project was started a few months ago to shed light on what colleges are paying out when so many are struggling to pay for tuition, he said.
Parents and students, he said, deserve to know where that money goes. Last week, student protestors at New York University clashed with police as they called for more transparency in university spending.
According to the WABC New York affiliate, the protestors were asked for information to be released on the university's budget, endowment, staff salaries and investment strategies.