Some American academics are astoundingly well compensated. According to an article by Andrea Fuller in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

The [The Chronicle‘s review of federal tax documents from the 2008-9 fiscal year] which included 448 chief executives, found 30 private college leaders who received more than $1-million in total compensation. In the previous year’s report, 23 chief executives earned over $1-million.

The biggest payouts were for those who retired. When Bernard Lander, the founder of Touro College, retired in 2008 the college gave him $4.8 million.

The big winners in 2008 were R. Gerald Turner of Southern Methodist University ($2.7 million), Nicholas Zeppos of Vanderbilt University ($2.4 million), and John Lahey of Quinnipiac University ($1.8 million).

These people work for private institutions and their salaries are a result of negotiations between the administrators and the board to which they answer. It’s their agreement only. If the school thinks it’s worth it, well essentially it is.

The salary list does reveal some very interesting priorities, however. While the presidents of some very rich institutions (Vanderbilt, Yale, Penn, Columbia) make the list of administrators making more than $1 million a year, the article revels some surprisingly large compensation packages for presidents of relatively unknown colleges. The fifth most generously compensated academic administrator, Steadman Upham, is president of the University of Tulsa. Number 11 on the list was James Doti, the president of Chapman University.

A surprising addition to the millionaires club is Walter Broadnax, now a professor of public policy at Syracuse.

Broadnax was formerly the president of the financially struggling, historically black Clark Atlanta University. Broadnax left Clark Atlanta after the faculty gave him an 86 percent no confidence vote in 2007 and several professors sued Broadnax to try and prevent him from shutting down two academic programs. Broadnax received $1,158,537 in total compensation from Clark Atlanta in 2008.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer