None of Washington’s public university presidents made the top-10 list of highest-paid college executives this year, but the study didn’t count a full year’s worth of salary for University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce.

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None of Washington’s public university presidents made the top-10 list of highest-paid executives on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual salary survey this year. But timing had a lot to do with it.

Washington’s highest-paid public university president, Ana Mari Cauce, became president of the University of Washington in October 2015. The Chronicle’s salary survey covers the period from July 2015 to June 2016, so it does not include a full year’s worth of Cauce’s presidential salary; it shows her making $524,265, or 91st on a list of 239 school presidents.

But if it had included an entire year of pay, Cauce likely would have made the top-10, and might have been listed as the highest-paid woman president of a state university in the country.

Critics have long argued that the nation’s university presidents make far too much money. Defenders say a good president is worth every penny. In the late 2000s, former UW President Mark Emmert was the second-highest-paid university president in the country, a sore point for some faculty members, lawmakers and the public.


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In 2015-16, Cauce made $910,000 a year, under a five-year contract approved in November 2015. She received a base salary of $697,500, deferred compensation of $150,000 a year, an annual $50,500 contribution to a retirement account and a $12,000 annual automobile allowance. (She has pledged to donate $100,000 of her salary each year to student programs and scholarships.)

In October 2016, the UW Board of Regents increased her base salary by 3 percent.

She’s not the highest-paid employee at the UW. In 2015-16, according to The Chronicle, head football coach Chris Petersen made more than $2.7 million. Chief investment officer Keith Ferguson and Lorenzo Romar, the former head coach of the men’s basketball team, each made nearly $1.4 million that year.

If her full salary had fallen within the right time frame, Cauce might have been the 9th highest paid on the Chronicle’s list — in between Jean Robillard, who served as interim president of the University of Iowa in 2015-16 and made $929,045, and Ray Watts, the president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who made $890,000.

The highest-paid woman president of a public university in 2015-16 was Judy Genshaft, of the University of South Florida, who made $879,506.

The average presidential salary is $501,398, up 5.3 percent from the previous fiscal year.

Washington State University’s new president, Kirk Schulz, is also too new to crack the top-100 on The Chronicle’s list. His five-year contract, approved in April 2016, gives him $625,000 a year, and he’s also eligible to earn an additional retention incentive of $25,000 a year. He had only earned a few months of his salary when The Chronicle did its study. If the list had counted his entire salary, he would have placed at about 50th in the nation.

The highest-paid university president in the country in 2015-16 was Michael Crow, head of Arizona State University, who made $1.5 million.

The Chronicle’s list didn’t include presidential salaries for Washington’s four other public higher-education institutions — Central, Western and Eastern Washington universities and The Evergreen State College — because the size of their enrollments didn’t meet the publication’s cutoff.