Pundits have discussed for some time how higher education is becoming increasingly international. Foreign students are common at American universities, at both the graduate and undergraduate level.

It’s not just students, however. It appears that many American college administrators are foreign, or foreign-born. According to an article by Lisa Foderaro in the New York Times:

The Association of American Universities, which represents large research campuses in the United States and Canada, said that 11 of its 61 American member institutions have foreign-born chiefs, up from 6 five years ago. In the past two months, three colleges in the New York region have appointed presidents born abroad: Cooper Union tapped a scholar originally from India; Seton Hall University, a candidate from the Philippines; and Stevens Institute of Technology, a native of Iran.

That trend extends to Washington, where a year ago President Obama named a native of Argentina, Eduardo M. Ochoa, to be his top adviser on higher education, as an assistant secretary in the Department of Education.

Why is this? The article says that “the globalization of the college presidency…is a natural outgrowth of the steady increase of international students and professors” and that these foreign administrators can “lead to more relationships and exchanges abroad… while giving students a stronger sense that they are world citizens.”

This may well be true, if vague, but another reason might be that many American academic administrators are exceptionally well compensated.

The median salary for an American college president is some $241,669 a year. A third of college presidents earn over $500,000 annually. [Image via]

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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