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U of M's Kaler in top 20 percent for pay among university presidents

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The University of Minnesota's Eric Kaler is No. 33 on a list of 214 public college presidents ranked by salary.

The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked the university leaders, noting that Kaler had a salary of $588,885 in fiscal year 2012, plus $64,350 in retirement pay ($653,235 total). He ranked just above No. 39 Sally Mason at the University of Iowa; and well ahead of No. 91 David Ward at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Steven Rosenstone was 130th, with total earnings of $399,489.

Kaler was in the top 10 among presidents who run state flagship universities, MPR notes. His pay was just sixth-highest in the Big 10 Conference, the Pioneer Press notes.

Kaler negotiated a higher salary in exchange for a contract with fewer perks and bonuses, the Pioneer Press reports. "President Kaler's dedication to the institution and early track record of success are transforming the university in meaningful ways, and his compensation reflects that," Linda Cohen, the chair of the Board of Regents, in a statement, the newspaper reports.

Kaler took the helm in July 2011, and he has taken fire from state lawmakers who say the U's administrative costs are too high. Cutting administrative costs was part of a deal the U struck with the Legislature in order to freeze tuition rates.

Kaler in 2010 said, "My total compensation package is in the middle range for presidents in the Big 10. It's, I think, representative of the responsibilities that come with the job." Kaler got a pay bump from his predecessor Robert Bruininks, MPR noted.

A former U of M president from 1997 to 2002, Mark Yudof, surfaces on the latest list as the eighth-highest paid president in the nation, the Business Journal notes. He's now leading the University of California system.

The top four presidents all earned more than $1 million. At the very top was former Penn State University President Graham Spanier, who the school fired amid the child-sex-abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. He received most of his money in severance pay and deferred compensation, which is money he earned during a 16-year presidency that had not yet been paid out, the publication reported.

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