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MADISON — A four-year degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will run an in-state undergrad student north of $100,000. That works out to about one-sixth of UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank’s annual base salary.

For all the gnashing of teeth about the cost of higher education from higher education, the chieftains of America’s public universities and colleges are earning a very comfortable living.

Costs to attend public universities skyrocketed 30 percent post-Great Depression between 2008 and 2018, according to CNBC. And human resources — particularly higher ed leadership — has much to do with that spike.

With the end of a tuition freeze in the budget recently signed by Gov. Evers, will we see another surge in the cost of a college education? We know we’re seeing hefty administrative costs.

Blank last year posted a $594,269 base salary after an $11,652 pay increase. She was the top earner on the list of the University of Wisconsin System’s university leaders. UW-Milwaukee’s Mark Mone finished a distant second, with a base salary of $404,143.

While Wisconsin’s chancellors are certainly earning a “liveable wage,” Blank doesn’t rank among the top public university earners nationwide, according to a review of the Chronicle of Higher Education data by Campus Reform. The data covers compensation packages for nearly 300 university packages between 2010 and 2019.

The report breaks down how many tuition bills each administrator’s salary could pay.

“Some public university presidents have earned salaries equivalent to hundreds of students’ annual tuition rates as the cost of college increased significantly since the Great Recession,” the analysis states.

At nearly $600,000 a year, Blank’s base salary could cover the annual tuition payments of 55 UW students.

Georgia State University President Mark Becker earns $2,806,517 per year in base salary and other bonuses, according to the data. That’s enough money to cover the $11,000 in annual tuition for more than 250 Georgia State students, the Campus Reform report notes.

In the Big 10, former Ohio State University President Michael Drake earned $1,422,154, which could have funded 123 tuition payments for OSU students.

Read the full report at Campus Reform. 

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